Maintaining Industry Leading Reliability of Manufacturing Robotics

The reliability of its industrial robots is crucial for ABB in ensuring that its customers’ highly precise production lines are not held up, a problem which could potentially cost significant amounts of time and money to correct. During the revision of one of its robotic systems, ABB’s Spanish division wanted to explore ways of maintaining its leadership in product reliability through the use of simulation technologies.

To support the use of simulation tools in this endeavor, ABB in Spain enlisted the help of Altair ProductDesign's regional team, thanks to the company's experience in utilizing simulation tools to solve engineering challenges in the robotics industry. The project centered on improving the fatigue performance of a Twin Robot Xbar (TRX), one of ABB’s robotic part transfer systems that moves components between manufacturing stations.


Working alongside ABB’s engineering team, Altair ProductDesign’s first task was to prove that a combination of multi-body dynamics (MBD) and fatigue analysis could accurately replicate physical testing at the component level. MBD models were built in order to characterize the component’s structural behavior and define the dynamic loads. These results were used to investigate the dynamic structural response data and calculate durability limit and fatigue performance.

The results matched well with the physical test data, giving confidence in the methodology and allowing the team to extend the project to the entire TRX system. A process to define a parameterized model of the TRX was undertaken and the likelihood of fatigue problems occurring in the TRX was explored. Loads and sensitivity analysis was performed, using a variety of simulation cases to investigate issues and potential solutions.

The project successfully identified the repetitive loads responsible for the durability life. By varying the velocity, a reduction in acceleration and the resulting peak forces could be achieved which could lead to a significant reduction in fatigue phenomena. Key to the success of the project was the time savings achieved through the use of simulation techniques. Physically testing parts of the system would take several weeks but using a virtual approach allowed ABB to investigate the entire system in just a few hours of model building, set up and analysis time.

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