There are countless benefits to robotics in packaging but one hang-up has always been the robotic teach pendent. This pendent is utilized to program and maneuver the robot including managing faults and jogging the machine. For someone who is well versed in robotics, a teach pendent is not an issue. However, once the machine is installed and running in a facility, operators need to have user friendly access to the machine. That is where robotic HMI interfacing comes into play. We are going to look at three benefits for integrating the robot with the HMI.

Single Point of Operation

The first benefit to interfacing with the robot through the HMI is having a single point of operation for the entire line. Operators are familiar with the HMI platform, navigating the teach pendent can prove cumbersome. Most lines are fully integrated to one HMI platform, allowing a single operator to run the entire system. When the robot is interfacing with the line’s HMI they can track the robot’s status, adjust application parameters, robotic positions and run programs all from a facility-familiar platform. To eliminate the operator’s need for the teach pendent allows them to run the entire line from a common HMI platform  increasing OEE. This interface makes it easier to start, stop, troubleshoot and make adjustments to the robot (which we will discuss further, below) as well as the entire line.

Managing Faults and Changeover

As mentioned above, the HMI is a much more familiar platform than the teach pendent, simplifying the management of faults and changeover. Alarms and alarm history are echoed from the teach pendent to the HMI. The HMI allows operators to quickly diagnose the fault for shortened downtime. When jogging is required, overall layouts are displayed on the HMI. A more descriptive pattern for Changeover is another benefit received when interfacing with the HMI. Operators can pull information about the entire line and manage changeover and run time.

Allen Bradley Robotic HMI Interface

Display and Functionality

Finally, the most visually obvious benefit, the aesthetics of the HMI. As we move towards PC based HMIs, graphic display is impeccable, functioning much like our smart phones and tablets. Additionally, options available on the HMI such as language and layout, whether PC based or not, are greater than what is offered on the teach pendent.

The HMI will steal the show for much of day to day functionality, but, for now, the teach pendent will maintain its roll.  The teach pendent still serves a primary purpose for the robot. Aside from initial set up, the teach pendent is also utilized during standard and preventative maintenance.