What is an Industrial Manipulator?

Industrial Manipulator Rigid Arm

Industrial manipulators are tools to relieve your workers from the burden of laborious manoeuvres such as moving, gripping, lifting, holding, and rotating loads. They are among the most versatile and efficient tools for handling heavy equipment.

Although there are different types of industrial manipulator, they all do a similar thing: manipulate your products safely whilst ensuring high levels of operator safety equipment. It is important to have a clear understanding of how they operate and why they are used.

What does an Industrial Manipulator do?

An industrial manipulator is a machine with a rigid manipulator arm, designed to pick up large and heavy loads. The manipulator arm can make complex manoeuvres whilst it has an object outside of its centre of mass. It is often used for more efficient and safe handling of bulk items. 

The ability of the manipulator to move products outside of its centre of mass becomes increasingly important as you start working with heavier loads or products that are awkwardly shaped. With many other types of handling devices (like cable balancers), heavy or awkward shaped products cannot be handled as precisely, which can disrupt your production line. 

To achieve efficient handling of bulk loads in the build process, the manipulator will enable your employee to control it and move the loads rather than use body strength and agility to perform potentially harmful, strenuous tasks themselves. 

An industrial manipulator takes the strain of the load from the operator and can provide precise grip and movement for lifting, lowering, and transporting an object to the exact place you want it.

An example of a cable balancer armAn example of a cable balancer arm

Why is an Industrial Manipulator used?

Industrial manipulators can be a great solution to increase productivity and reduce injuries in the workplace. They benefit both the worker and the company and can help in various ways:

  • Moving something too heavy for a person to handle manually
  • Moving an item to a location that is not easily accessible for the person 
  • Reducing the risk of Musculoskeletal injuries and repetitive strain injury through incorrect manual handling
  • Avoid employee fatigue
  • Improving the efficiency of the production line 
  • Reducing the risk of workplace accidents and damage to products
  • To keep the operator away from the product which could be hot, sharp etc.

How does an Industrial Manipulator help?

Industrial manipulators are used in many different industries. There are different types of manipulators available. They can be tailored and adapted to the working environment. Here, we have listed 4 examples of industries that might benefit from an industrial manipulator.

1. Yellow Goods

Yellow good parts and components can be very large, heavy and with limited access into the vehicle. They can also need precise rotations and tilts to allow them to slot together. The size and weight of these parts, require careful assembly to avoid damage or injury. 

A common process that engineers in yellow goods manufacturing experience is the need to use grippers suspended from an industrial manipulator to guide wheels into place or rotate and turn seats into cabs. This application is useful for moving items in locations that are not easily accessible and to reduce the manual handling strain of fiddly, involved tasks.

An example gripper for an industrial manipulatorAn example of a gripper for an industrial manipulator

Circumstances often require material handling equipment to move across a large area on conveyors. Here, mobile manipulators become an effective solution for the yellow goods industry. They perform almost all the same tasks as an industrial manipulator but are flexible and can be moved along the line. The result is a cost-effective, safe, and efficient production line.

2. White Goods

Tasks such as handling, moving or lifting large or heavy items often require excess physical strength, time, and effort to complete without assistance. This is a common reason why industrial manipulators as used in the electronics sector. 

They are often integrated into a full turnkey solution for the electronics sector. Manufacturers of white household goods, often look toward a vacuum lift solution to avoid damage to their products and use the industrial manipulator to remove the lifting burden. 

A vacuum lift solution is an attachment that when added to the industrial manipulator offers additional functionality, manoeuvrability, and control to achieve the desired task more effectively.

A vacuum lift attachment for an industrial manipulatorAn example of a vacuum lift attachment for an industrial manipulator

3. Food & Beverage

The food sector also frequently uses industrial manipulators. They have a primary need to perform tasks as quickly as possible without causing worker fatigue or increasing the risk of repetitive strain injuries. 

They need to be able to carry many different loads of all different shapes, sizes, and weights e.g., food packages, bottles, dairy products etc. 

It is likely that the manipulator could be lifting hundreds of kilos every day. This is not feasible for the average worker to perform; therefore an industrial manipulator is highly valued in this industry.

4. Construction

Within construction, the manufacturing of large products is very common. It often requires lifting heavy, awkward loads into high places which (without a manipulator) would require manual handling to take place above the ground. Manual handling just 2 meters above the ground puts your employees at risk of a fatal injury and should be avoided.

Industrial Manipulators allow the movement of loads on a rigid vertical axis and are especially useful for the construction industry. Overheard Telescopic Masts and Dual or Linked Hoists allow 80kg – 2000kg to be lifted into hard-to-reach places. 

The ability to work outside of its centre of mass allows the manipulator to manage high offset loads that enable precision assembly.

An example of an Overheard Telescopic MastAn example of an Overhead Telescopic Mast 

How to choose an Industrial Manipulator

Our customers enjoy countless benefits from industrial manipulators. With the ability to lift heavier objects, these material handling solutions significantly contribute to improvements in production for many industries. 

If you are looking for a way to assist your workers in the operation of repetitive and laborious tasks, an industrial manipulator is an affordable and beneficial solution. Contact us today to discuss your material handling solutions with our friendly customer service team.

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