Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arms, or SCARA robots, continue to enable manufacturers to boost their productivity at low operational costs. Such technologies are the firm foundation for the next industrial revolution.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the manufacturing industry in an unprecedented way, it has also increased the demand for automation to help maintain productivity while workers are scarce or comply with social-distancing protocols. The latest SCARA machines have become more affordable, faster, easier to handle, and more efficient.
According to Allied Market Research, the global SCARA robot market is expected to reach $14.78 billion by 2026, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8% from 2019 to 2026. The research firm cited the need for for mass production with reduced operational costs, the surge in demand for Internet of Things (IoT)-based systems, and the increasing adoption of Industry 4.0 as causes of this growth.
SCARA in large-scale manufacturing
The new generation of SCARA machines is quite different from its predecessors. Unlike earlier versions of robotic arms, SCARA has proved to be excellent at imitating the human elbow and shoulder and can move in numerous ways, independently and simultaneously.
Moreover, these robots can handle a wide range of operations, including moving objects from one location to another or picking and placing objects before assembly. SCARA systems can also perform processes such as dispensing, screwdriving, and engraving.
The accuracy, flexibility, and precision of SCARA robots enable them to perform demanding industrial tasks that require excellent repeatability. Their payload capacity allows them to be used for assembly or transfer of heavy workpieces, especially in the automotive industry. The majority of these operations are challenging for humans or lighter robots to perform, but SCARA can offer high performance at a low cost.
The increased demand for high-precision manufacturing processes led to new robots. In the past few months, major automation players have unveiled next-generation SCARA robots (see slideshow at right). These competitive offerings allow customers to evaluate and select the robots that best satisfy their needs.
The future of SCARA robots
As manufacturing and supply chain operators turn to automation for repetitive tasks requiring precision, SCARA robots and complementary technologies have a vital role to play, according to Allied Market Research.
For instance, integrated vision systems can extend their application and enable the robots to detect and track products on a conveyor. This can improve the accuracy for processes such as depositing adhesives during assembly.
Early versions of collaborative robot arms lacked the precision and accuracy offered by SCARA robots. Programming in the new generation of SCARA robots can account for controls, lighting, and image and data processing, significantly reducing equipment setup time.
We expect SCARA robots to continue to improve in capability and find more and more novel industrial applications. As next-generation SCARA robots offer ever-greater precision, faster cycle times, and easier programming, their adoption will increase.