Robotics simulation is a digital tool used to engineer robotics-based automated production systems. Functionally, robotics simulation uses digital representation – a digital twin – to enable dynamic interaction with robotics models in a virtual environment. The purpose of robotics and automation simulation systems is to bring automation systems online much faster and launch production with fewer errors than occurs with conventional automation engineering.
Automation simulation plays a key role in robotics because it permits experimentation that would be expensive and/or time-consuming if it had to be conducted with actual robots – and even more so when such experimentation must be conducted on the production floor. Robotics simulation permits engineers to try ideas and construct manufacturing scenarios in a dynamic virtual environment, collecting virtual response data that accurately represents the physical responses of the control system.
Robotics simulation has steadily evolved over time to keep up with the growing capabilities of industrial robots. Robots are being deployed into dynamic environments in which the robot’s tasks may change frequently or involve human collaborators. Demand for advanced robotics of this kind continues to grow as manufacturers increase product complexity, variety and customization to meet customer demand. Advanced robotics incorporates runtime decision-making and reactive programming for unforeseen events, as well as the ability to adapt and improve based on data collected by the industrial internet of things (IIoT) processed with artificial intelligence (AI). The level of complexity in advanced robotics programming and deploying and operating advanced robots, as well as the high cost that would be incurred to debug a robotics system on the production floor, make advanced robotics simulation a critical component of manufacturing engineering.
Advanced robotics simulation software enables users to engineer and optimize robotic production that comprises the new flexibility and customization made possible by advanced robotics technologies. Engineers may employ advanced robotics simulation to design complete 3D robotic work cells, then validate and optimize manufacturing process sequences simulating realistic behavior and responses. They can validate automation concepts virtually and perform offline advanced robotics programming. This simulation software also provides companies with the ability to commission complete production systems virtually.
Modern robotics and automation simulation software is designed to address single-robot stations all the way to complete production lines and zones. It begins with design and validation of automated manufacturing processes that include a variety of robotic and automation processes.
Once processes are designed and validated, the software supports detailed engineering of robotic paths and motions, helping engineers to ensure collision-free operation with optimized cycle times. Both time-based and event-based simulation methods may be employed. Advanced robotics simulation software also typically provides support for specific robotics applications:
Software functionality also includes offline advanced robotics programming, which allows for downloading and uploading of production programs to and from the shop floor. This means that the software interfaces with any major industrial robot and controller, and users can add detailed information to create complete programs offline, then download them to the controller on the floor.
Because robotics simulation generates realistic and accurate behaviors and responses in the virtual realm to demonstrate what will happen in the physical realm, it enables manufacturers to design and optimize manufacturing processes without the time and cost penalties of tying up capital equipment or production floors.
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