Robots in their many forms are at the heart of much of todays automated manufacturing, with the 6 axis variants perhaps most widely recognised due to the numbers installed within the automotive sector. Gantry robots however, with their capability to handle large payloads and span great distances, can be an attractive alternative and offer distinct advantages in many application areas where space and accessibility are at a premium.
It is true that the 6 degrees of freedom Güdel’s Gantry Advantage Flexible & Scalable Technology Güdel gantry robots bring advantages to many applications and industries available from an articulated arm robot brings distinct advantages where complex orientation tasks are required, but gantry robots have other attributes which can eclipse those of their 6 axis cousins in many ways. Generally if the concept or application under consideration requires compromises to make a 6 axis solution viable, then it is often the case that a gantry robot would be the better option.
The mechanical configuration of a gantry robot is inherently rigid and provides the highest levels of accuracy and repeatability across its full, and often extensive working envelope. It is these characteristics that have seen Güdel gantry robots play an important role in many applications.
A good example is machine tool loading. In this relatively simple application, usually requiring only 3-4 axes of motion, the main advantages of the gantry robot are the shape of the work envelope and the ability to access the machines from overhead. This means that there are no restrictions on operator access to the machine or its control panel at floor level, often a disadvantage when using 6 axis robots for these operations.
Also, where there are a number of machine tools to be serviced, then a single gantry robot can be used to load and unload multiple machines.
All gantry robots supplied by Güdel, irrespective of working range or payload, are built upon a comprehensive range of high quality, robust, field proven modules manufactured in-house to exacting standards. Güdel’s reputation for quality and reliability, combined with the relatively simple mechanical configuration of gantry robots mean that uptimes are very high and the time required for any maintenance or remedial work is kept to an absolute minimum.
The scalable concept of the gantry robot also allows the system to be tailored specifically to suit the application, meaning that there are no compromises on working range, accuracy and repeatability or payload. A further benefit is that, although a gantry robot might span a great distance, its actual footprint is small by comparison. This means a very high utilisation of precious floor-space, without the “dead zone” usually associated with a conventional floor mounted 6-axis robot. Although Güdel’s gantry robots have high levels of accuracy and repeatability built-in, for certain applications the main criteria is not necessarily precision, but the size of the work area required, which makes the gantry the first choice solution.
A shining example of the capabilities and benefits of a very large gantry robot solution is Güdel’s WoodFlex system, spanning an impressive 50 metres and installed to manufacture threedimensional arched ceiling beams and other products for modular building construction.
In addition to the extensive working range of this system, the impressive payload capacity of the gantry allows it to transport a range of interchangeable gripper and tooling systems on board, increasing efficiency and productivity as it performs numerous assembly tasks with multiple tools.
These unsung heroes of the automation world have a lot to offer and can often be a practical alternative to other robot types for a wide range of applications across multiple market sectors.