There has been a monumental shift toward material handling or logistics robots (such as AGVs like the one pictured below) to help warehouses run smoothly and efficiently, . However, to ensure that these warehouses actually do run effectively, it’s important that the robots require as little maintenance as possible. This is where bearing selection comes in.
From what we hear from our customers, the most important factor to consider when choosing bearings for your material handling robot is the bearing’s performance. These marvels of the modern-day warehouse move A LOT, and with motion comes the need for long-lasting, maintenance-free bearings to prevent catastrophes due to unplanned downtime.
iglide® plastic plain bearings and drylin® linear guides from igus® have been engineered to offer an extended service life and feature various advantages that enable them to perform better than their metal counterparts. Below, we’ll discuss four reasons why you should consider designing iglide® bearings into your next robot.
1. Maintenance-free operation
Material handling robotic systems that operate without the need for maintenance is a vital benefit for manufacturers of such systems. With igus’® dry-tech® components being dry-running and self-lubricating, achieving maintenance-free operation is simple. Dry-running bearings also reduce the overall cost of the system by eliminating the need for grease zerks as well as the cost of the lubricant itself and certain grease fittings.
2. Weight reduction
Given that material handling robots use batteries for power, it’s critical to extend the range as much as possible to keep them moving. Reducing the weight of the robot itself can have a major influence on battery life. These robots typically have many bearings to keep them operating and every ounce you can shave off counts! Switching from metal bearings to composite plastics is a great way to reduce weight by as much as 80%.
3. Corrosion resistance
Let’s face it, some warehouses are HOT. Oftentimes, warehouses have humidity present, which can lead to severe corrosion issues that accelerate wear (example pictured right: a corroded PTFE-lined bearing).
Having a corrosion-free plastic bearing will prevent any corrosion-related failures and also eliminate the need for seals. That being said, some plastics can absorb moisture and swell in these types of environments. It’s important to check the moisture absorption rate to ensure no binding will occur. Using a composite plastic should offer plenty of options to eliminate the risk.
4. Load capacity
Most of these material handling robots have to be able to withstand loads, including shock and impact. Having a more elastic material that can absorb these loads helps keep the robots moving and avoids any catastrophic failures.
5. Lifetime calculation
Most of these robotic systems have a point at which the robot must retire. It’s important to know that the components put into these robots will survive for that duration and not cause a line down or failure in the system. Lifetime calculation tools are available for all igus® products and are based on extensive lab testing.
6. Easy prototyping
With so many different manufacturing methods available – from injection molding and machining bar stock to SLS printing (pictured right) with extremely wear-resistant igus® materials – you can easily get parts to test and use in your equipment, whether you need millions of bearings or just a few!
igus® can help
Material handling robotics is one of the industries we have been working heavily with over the past 10 years and even more so in the past five. With so many different products available, such as iglide® bearings, igubal® self-aligning bearings and drylin® linear guides just to name a few, you’re bound to find the right solution that can help keep your robots running.
If you have any questions or need assistance finding or designing your next solution, contact me here.