When you install a single tool on a robot’s wrist, you limit your ‘bot to just one function. Multiple tools allow robots to do more. Automatic tool changers are the enabling technology. To show you how I’m showcasing one of John Martin‘s latest projects, this is a double robot bolting system with many unique challenges.

John worked with Mike Willey to create a custom multi-tool that locates the bolt holes and the bolts themselves in the storage bin using machine vision. The multi-tool grips the bolt then uses a laser displacement sensor for collision avoidance while placing the bolt in the assembly. Finally, the multi-tool spins the bolt until fully seated while measuring revolutions and torque. The automatic tool changer must not only grip the multi-tool in a secure failsafe manner, but it must also make and break servo motor cables, sensors,  communication, camera signals, power, and pneumatics. Jacob Novosad wrote some excellent code that uses this feedback to ensure proper thread makeup and initial torque.

To apply the final torque in the range of tens of thousands of foot-pounds requires John’s torque tool, which incorporates an HYTORC wrench. In this case, the automatic tool changer must make and break 3,000 psi hydraulic lines, remote I/O communication for pressure and proximity sensors, and power for the tool. This tool incorporates a reaction arm to resist the tool torque force, which is well beyond the robot’s capacity. Jim Walker used the FANUC America Corporation robot soft-float software option to avoid damage by floating in a horizontal plane during the torquing sequence.

We chose ATI Industrial Automation automatic tool changers to safely change the tool and handle this array of utilities ranging from high-pressure hydraulics to servo position feedback. Robert Little and his team are a pleasure to work on these challenging projects. The ATI automatic tool changers worked great, and they arrived on time, keeping our project on schedule.

Watch the video to see if you agree that the guys did a fantastic job.

Call us if you want your robots to do more than one task.

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