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The many types of automated equipment include industrial robots, assembly systems, test equipment, vision systems, and safety equipment such as light curtains. Commonly used in automotive, printed circuit board (PCB), and appliance industries that rely heavily on factory machinery, automated machines make production more efficient and reliable. Computer-controlled automation equipment can run continuously without error. A robotic system, for example, can be programmed to run the same complex routines continuously with little assistance from humans.
Robots have revolutionized the world of industrial automation. Automated robotics systems include pick-and-place units that can be used in assembly, packaging, and tooling in the form of sophisticated robot work cells. These kinds of automated equipment can even operate on compressed air, helping a factory to adhere to strict energy efficiency standards.
Other robotic equipment handles dispensing for glue, liquid, and other materials. Welding, assembly, packaging, and inspection are all processes that are automated by various complex machines. Self-compliant assembly robot arm (SCARA) devices perform small-parts assembly and are programmable. To add to their flexibility, these arms can feature up to six axes. They are often used for palletizing, or placing items in specific places for storage.
Automated assembly equipment can be used for assembling, cleaning, and inspecting parts at high speeds. This type of automated equipment is used to assemble circuit boards, build medical devices such as syringes, and inspect bottles. A touchscreen interface allows an operator to program and operate the system. Internal robotic arms, spindles, and cameras perform all of the work at the press of a button. The inspection capabilities of such an automated system can detect microscopic flaws in things such as circuit boards.
Integrated circuit (IC) quality analysis is one function of automated test equipment. Applications range from defect analysis to testing of PCB operation, while IC efficiency can also be analyzed using Joint Test Action Group (JTAG) boundary scan testers. Optical inspection provides an up close visual analysis, while X-ray inspection allows inspectors to use automated equipment to see hidden components such as solder joints beneath the IC package.
Automated equipment is not limited to assembly and inspection, but can also provide security. One example is the light curtain, which consists of light beams and sensors. If the array of light beams — the curtain — is blocked, the system will automatically be turned off. Ideally, the reaction time of the machine should be instant, because workers loading and unloading parts from high-speed machines can face serious injury, and too long of a reaction time can affect production output.