New applications for mechanical devices present unique requirements. Consider the exceptionally challenging application for cable management in robot-transfer units (RTUs) and linear tool-tray transfer systems. RTUs are long tracks to carry robots between workstations. As an inverse solution, linear tool-tray transfer systems move workpieces past a stationary robot for various material handling or fabricating tasks. Both are seeing upticks in use with the general migration to flexible manufacturing.
“Here, engineers must determine whether the robotic installation’s long-stroke cable management system will carry robot communication cable, robot power cable, air lines for end effectors, and power and communication cable for carriage motors,” said Benedict Talan, president at LazerArc of Motion Index Drives.
Consider the challenging application of welding. Here, the welding robot typically rides a linear transfer system and necessitates that large-diameter welding cables run through the linear system’s cable carrier.
“Here, the integrator must ensure these are flex lines suited for 7th-axis linear slides. Otherwise, these large cables can quickly destroy an improperly sized cable management system … or the lines themselves can fail in a cable carrier with an improper bend radius,” Talan of LazerArc explained.
Another common pitfall is not anticipating the bend-radius requirements (and consumption of linear floor space) of completed systems. When the full design footprint is underestimated, the designs may end up with improperly sized cable management systems that protrude outwards away from the rail ends upon full carriage retraction. “That’s why we underscore that OEMs and plant engineers work with RTU and transfer-system suppliers who correctly design cable-management design features. Premature cable breakdown can cause many hours of downtime … while properly designing cable management extends the life of cable and hose,” Talan warned.