ABB, the global power and automation technology group announces that it is ensuring the extended life of robots within harsh and hostile environments, by offering complete protection with its ‘FoundryPlus’ foundry protection systems.
Six-axis industrial robots have ramped up the efficiency of the foundry processes; such as die-casting, precision casting and sand casting.
Robots, however, are sensitive to the harsh environments in which they operate and few environments are tougher on equipment than the foundry. Incessant showers of sparks, harsh lubricants and metal ‘spits’ expose the equipment to excessive wear, which will eventual result in increased operational downtime, repairs, and reduced service life.
In die-casting, for example, up to 100 litres of lubricant and coolant are used in every cycle – and a large volume of that splashes over the robot manipulator. Mixed with tiny metal particles, these fluids become abrasive and corrosive. To cope in these hostile environments, robots must be manufactured to be durable and robust.
To benefit from the potential efficiency increases provided by robots in foundry processes and to obtain maximum return on investment, operational uptime and service life must be maximised. Whilst the foundry robots life is constantly being increased, this is largely because foundry protection systems are being utilised more and more.
Protection for the wrist – but what about the rest of the robot?
Most robot suppliers offer foundry protection in some form, but most of them only provide partial protection, leaving out parts of the manipulator. The wrist is the part of a robot that is normally in closest contact with damaging coolants and lubricants – and hence the component that is most subject to wear. Consequently, the wrist is generally well protected – with practically every robot manufacturer providing wrist protection.
Unfortunately, few manufacturers offer protection of the upper and lower arm system and the base. Due to their position, these assemblies, which usually house vital and sensitive parts such as motors and electronics, are often subject to large amounts of fluid splash.
Hardly surprising then that motor failure is one of the most common robot breakdowns in foundry applications. The cost of materials and repairs alone often amount to 2000-2500 euros per breakdown. Add to this 12-24 hours unplanned downtime, and some idea of the real costs of a robot motor failure can be appreciated.
FoundryPlus protects the entire manipulator
Tiny airborne particles of coolant and lubricant are not concerned with which parts of the robot are protected, and which are not. These substances penetrate all unprotected areas, causing damage and corrosion. Protection of the entire robot is therefore crucial.
Robots protected by FoundryPlus are completely sealed – from base to wrist. FoundryPlus offers protection that meets and exceeds IP67 according to IEC 529, which in practice means that the robot is totally sealed against the ingress of any solid or fluid substances.
Only ABB’s FoundryPlus offers complete protection of the robot. FoundryPlus also offers protection of additional axes, such as track motions. FoundryPlus is a cost-effective insurance against premature failures and operational problems, which pays off rapidly – often within a year.
It takes more than IP67 to ensure long service life
Whilst IP67 compliance is necessary, it does not offer complete protection to ensure operational uptime. IP67 compliance only shows that the robot is sealed against substances during static measuring conditions. While this is of importance, it takes more than this for a robot to withstand the harsh environment of the foundry.
IP67 also doesn’t protect against the long-term effects of daily wear in tough ambient conditions. Slowly, but surely, with or without IP67 protection, the robot’s paint finish will begin to deteriorate. In addition, moisture will begin to penetrate between rubber seals and metal parts, causing corrosion.
What IP67 does guarantee is that the robot will withstand the wear of daily high-pressure steam washing – through the incorporation of an extremely durable coating and rubber seals.
With FoundryPlus, all requirements are met. The entire robot is painted with two-component epoxy on top of a special primer: steel surfaces are covered by a corrosion preventative primer, while aluminium surfaces are chromated.