An industrial robot is a robot which is utilized in industrial settings. In order to be officially considered an industrial robot, the robot must be capable of moving in three or more axes, usually with the use of an articulated arm which allows a full range of motion. It must also be automatically controlled, and it is reprogrammable. Industrial robots show up in a wide variety of settings and can be used in many different ways.
A classic use of industrial robots appears on assembly lines, where the robots put products together, check products to make sure that they conform with standards, and package products. Some assembly lines are totally automated, with robots doing all of the work from start to finish. Robots can also be involved in palletizing and preparing products for shipment, quality control, and so forth.
There are a number of advantages to working with robots. With an industrial robot, production capacity can usually be increased without needing to sacrifice safety. Robots can handle tasks which are dangerous for people, and they can be taught to do basic tasks for which paying a person might become expensive. An industrial robot is also capable of high levels of precision and control, which can be critical for product quality.
Disadvantages come along with the advantages. Some people have protested the increasing use of robots to do jobs which people once did, arguing that this deprives people of jobs. Furthermore, robots are not always as good as human workers when it comes to catching problems. A robot is only as good as its programming, and if a programmer fails to foresee a program, a robot cannot identify it or act to fix it.
An industrial robot can be programmed in a range of different ways. Some are remotely programmable, allowing people to make adjustments to programming from a control room. In other cases, someone needs to work directly with the robot to program it. The programming can vary considerably in sophistication, as well. Some manufacturers ship their robots with basic programming, while others do not, anticipating that the robot will be programmed at its end destination.
Using an industrial robot in manufacturing requires a company to have someone who is familiar with robots available. On a big manufacturing line, a full time staff may work with the robots to make adjustments as needed. For smaller companies, an on-call technician may be needed to keep a robot or robots operating effectively.