Virtual Assist Makes Troubleshooting Easier

 Beginning in February 2020, customers who own A/AW, BW or CW servo robots from ARI will benefit from Virtual Assist, a remote monitoring system that simplifies troubleshooting through ARI’s service department. Virtual Assist allows a service engineer from ARI to remotely access a customer’s robot controller offsite to see the robot’s control screens to assist in programming or identify issues the customer may be experiencing. In particular, the ARI service engineer can troubleshoot back-end functionality such as alarm sensitivities or input/output assignments.

“Many customers are challenged to hire and keep highly qualified technical team members, which impacts their uptime. Our goal is to offer a superior level of support on our robots. We found a way to take over-the-phone troubleshooting to the next level,” said Tim Lavigne, business unit manager for ARI. “Identifying and correcting issues faster through Virtual Assist will save molders time, aggravation and potentially the cost of an onsite service visit.

“We’ve seen novice operators attempting to troubleshoot on their own and make changes to robot settings in error. The next shift may not even know what was changed. For them, finding the problem is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Through Virtual Assist, one of our duty officers can jump online with the customer and immediately see what needs to be corrected,” indicated Lavigne.

STO Guarding Simplifies Access to Operating Machine Cells

 ARI’s robots, as with all robots in the industry, are required to be enclosed by protective guarding to ensure safety compliance during operation. A common feature of guard kits is an access door with a safety interlock switch. Typically, the safety interlock switch triggers an emergency stop across the entire machine cell so that the molding machine, robot and any auxiliary equipment are stopped simultaneously.

Repeated or continuous emergency stops caused by triggering the safety interlock switch may have a harsh effect on the robot’s servo drives and other electrical components within the cell. A triggered emergency stop also results in having to reset both press and robot in order to re-start production.

For robots purchased by customers from June 2019 forward, ARI will offer Safe Torque Off (STO) drives as standard on all servo robot models. The STO drives provide a supervisory sensor to the robot which allows the operator to pause the robot prior to entering the guarded area.

Through use of a “request to enter” button package, customers can set a safe pause position on their robot. When entry to the guarded area is required, customers press the “request to enter” button, the robot travels to safe location, and the access door is unlocked. Once the customer exits the guarded area, they push the “resume” button and both robot and press continue production without need for full system restart.

“We are not the first to offer this capability but at the affordable level of our robots, it will be a valuable additional feature,” said Lavigne. “We are constantly trying to make it easier for molders to use our robots, protect their investment and still keep our pricing affordable.”

Absolute Robot, Inc. was founded to provide the North American market with a cost-effective robot line that ranges from pneumatic pickers through full servo robots that may be equipped on machines up to 3300 tons. The automation offerings from ARI include a full range of sprue pickers, full servo robots, In Mold Labeling (IML) systems, guarding, conveyors, custom end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) and downstream equipment. By providing our injection molding customer base with a quality and cost-efficient solution to their automation needs, we continue to show their success is our passion.