I design, build, install and troubleshoot all kinds of pick and place,
robotic material handling and other automation equipment in a very high
volume manufacturing environment.
That question is really vague. You really need to supply some more
information, such as cycle rates, actuation type
(hydraulic/pneumatic/servo/robotic) and loads. The answer you seek will
be very different based on those items.
A system designed to move one 10kg part every hour will be completely
different than one designed to move ten 1 kg parts every 2.5 seconds.
The problems with each type of system will be unique to that type.
If designed properly mechanically for the load and cycle rate, and
electrically for programming and proper feedback systems, they are very
If underdesigned for the load or cycle rate they will fall apart in short
order. If underdesigned electrically, they will crash, or fault on a
fairly regular basis.
In the pick and place world, the KISS principle should be kept dear to
the heart. The more complicated it is, the more trouble it will be down
Before you look to building/buying a pick and place, I strongly suggest
you investigate a multi-axis robot. There are a multitude of advantages,
some of which are:
a) Most are as reliable as the sun, again depending on the design and
execution of the supporting equipment.
b) Price: A pick and place to move a 10kg load can easily cost $30-50k,
depending on cycle rate. A 6-axis 10kg robot will be on the low side of
that same range, or cheaper, depending on purchasing volume of the
robots, a SCARA will be slightly less. (SCARA is a 3-4 axis fixed-plane
robot, whereas a 6-axis robot gives you 6 axis of movement freedom, there
are advantages to each in certian applications. A 6-axis robot can do the
job of a SCARA, a SCARA cannot do the job of a 6 or 7 axis robot.)
c) When the current use is done, they can be easily and relatively
inexpensively reconfigured and reprogrammed to do some other job. Not
usually the case with a dedicated-design pick and place.
A possible disadvantage:
A robot may require slightly more floor space than a dedicated pick and
place to do the same job, when the safety perimeter is taken into
You can't 'idiot proof' anything....every time you try, they just make
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