Productive Robotics Inc. today announced the release of its Productive Analytics product, which is designed to provide users cloud-based access to the operating status and production history of its OB7 collaborative robots.
The seven-axis OB7 is designed to work in confined workspaces that six-axis cobot arms cannot reach, and it is intended to be easy to teach and use, according to the Carpinteria, Calif.-based company. It said that Productive Analytics will enable customers to optimize production, identify bottlenecks and errors, minimize downtime, and remotely monitor their robots.
“As our robots are running longer hours and ‘lights out,’ we’ve had more and more requests to be able to remotely monitor their activity,” stated Zac Bogart, president of Productive Robotics. “We created Productive Analytics to both monitor robot operation, as well as to provide reliable and accurate production data.”
Importance of metrics
Productive Analytics can provide data on jobs that have run or are running, as well as job hours and runtimes, production results and errors, and robot idle times. The software automatically e-mails scheduled PDF and CSV reports for importing into company’s production data systems, said Productive Robotics.
“If there’s a machine error, our robots themselves will send a message even without the analytics,” Bogart explained. “To completely check into a robot, Productive Analytics checks frequently — multiple times per operation. At any time, you can see exactly what’s happening with a robot.”
“More than that, it presents the working history of the cobot, and you can look at all the jobs — they’re not called programs,” he told Collaborative Robotics Trends. “They’re listed with the most recent jobs on top, and you can see how many cycles. Productive Analytics also has a grid display that shows the entire month with a square for every hour. You can mouse over squares and get details on how the robots are learning and working.”
Productive Analytics is based in the cloud, but Productive Robotics has made sure that corporate data stays secure.
“The risk factor with our robots is tiny, but the amount of time, energy, and resources we put into security is enormous, because it is critical,” Bogart said. “There is no Internet access into our robots, and all production data is fully encrypted before it is sent to the Productive Analytics cloud.”
Productive Robotics said data can be transmitted by wired network, wirelessly through Wi-Fi, or through customers’ own private cellular connections. No network ports are left open on OB7 cobots, ensuring safety from hacking or malware, it said.
“For Productive Analytics, nothing comes back into the robot; the connection to the Web is outbound-only,” said Bogart. “The data is stored in AWS, which is very secure.”
Productive Analytics could help extend runtimes
If cobots are designed to be safer than traditional industrial automation, why use them in “lights out” operations?
“Cobots can work with people, but they don’t have to,” replied Bogart. “We’ve got many customers who run their robots overnight. For example, in machine tending — CNC or pad printing — they queue up a boatload of work, and the robot runs through the night. When machine cycles are long, say 30 minutes, this lets them get a lot of work done overnight.”
“Customers give the example of when they have a 40-minute job in a milling machine,” he said. “In a eight-hour day with lunch, they may get 10 parts done in a day. With a robot, it can run all night long, and 40 minutes is truly 40 minutes. They’ve said that in 16 hours, they can produce more parts than would have taken two additional days.”
For customers large and small
Bigger manufacturers have expressed interest in Productive Analytics, but OB7 is also suitable for small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), said Bogart.
“Our customers include car and medical device manufacturers,” he said. “Big companies are used to PLCs [programmable logic controllers], but programming can be daunting for smaller companies. We stand out for SME because our robots are taught rather than programmed.”
“We have four models of robots and different interfaces, staging equipment, and grippers — one of the broadest product ranges in the cobot market,” Bogart said. “We’re also able to use others’ accessories, and our software is just part of that range.”
Productive Analytics available free
“Productive Robotics was founded in 2013, and we built Productive Analytics almost two years ago,” Bogart said. “The first iteration wasn’t good enough, but we’ve devoted resources to flesh out the product.”
Productive Analytics is now available for free for all OB7 cobots currently in operation.
“There is a lot of value, but I’m on the side of ‘Let’s give the first full release away,'” said Bogart. “We know that customers will come back and ask us for features. We want as many as people using it and providing feedback as possible.”
“One of our biggest customers, a Tier 1 automotive manufacturer, is arguing for us to charge for it,” he added. “The more we charge, the more we can expand the product.
“It’s also in everyone’s best interest to rent software versus own it. The idea of vendor lock-in is baloney. Renting can lower the upfront cost,” Bogart said. “Software like Microsoft Word used to add usability with each version but now does everything you want, so it breaks that model. We want to give customers whatever they need to add cobots in production.”