In recent years, cable management has come into the limelight because machine reliability has increased dramatically, even though robots have grown more complex. Unfortunately, the methods used to attach and guide cables have not quite followed suit. While managing cables and hoses is often an afterthought in most designs, it is truly a vital part of any well-functioning robot.
Since the 1960s, cable management methods for robots have not changed dramatically. Most experts agree that one of the top blunders made is underestimating cable management issues. For instance, during a conference hosted by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), a group of leading system integrators cited cable issues as the number one reason for downtime in robotics cells. Headaches range from tangled and corkscrewed cables, to complete breaks that cause downtime, lost revenue and damaged reputations.
This is why the ways in which robot cables are attached and guided is important. The less is more approach to cable management is a best practice that robotics engineers and integrators can apply. It centers on designing cable management systems for six-axis robots – including cables, hoses, tubing, carriers, and connectors – in three separate sections.
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Ideally, a robotic cable carrier system should allow sufficient clearance inside the cable carrier for electrical cables, pneumatic hoses and tubing for other media. This compensates for relative forces between cables and hoses. Cable carrier suppliers typically provide this data.
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