Manufacturers of high-product-mixes avoid robots in many applications.

The primary reason for that is not the cost of the robots themselves, but the cost of adapting the robots environment and programming them.

Most robots are positioned on six axes and account must be taken of the programmed instructions.

That is because some robots are programming themselves effectively now.

Manufacturers have programmed robots in one of three ways in recent years: sequential programming with a teach pendant, kinematic manipulation, and offline programming.

Unlike conventional industrial automation, self-programming robots are given specific "goals," such as a task description such as "Paint this surface." AI considers the specifications and limitations of the robot, such as how quickly it is allowed to move, and the position of the object on which it is working; it then creates a valid plan for each part, all in real time.

Just as people use their eyes, 3D vision is used by self-programming robots to perceive every aspect of the object in front of it, such as its shape, size and relative position.

When a robot generates its own program for a task, it uses 3D vision information - an environment "Digital Twin" - to validate each part of the plan.

High-product-mix manufacturers can deploy robots that are self-programmed in a variety of operations.

Such robots are now used to paint parts of the aerospace industry.

Self-programming robots have come online first for powder coating and liquid painting in particular, because the need for a solution is simply so high.

For self-programming robots, once their vision sensors are set, their accuracy never decreases below that which they have been calibrated for as long as they receive periodic maintenance, which is no more than the limited maintenance required by most industrial robots.

Robots don't wear masks or use air filtration systems and they don't develop the diseases that can long-term plague so many skilled workers.

Self-programming robots use heuristics to determine the amount of coating they spray, as well as the volume of coverage produced.

There are no limits to what self-programming robots can do, beyond spray-based applications.

In these situations, by using robots and proving the solutions, a manufacturer can then evolve its automation efforts to include whole cells and production lines.

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