How long does the warranty last?
Doesn’t that seem self-evident? However, in the bright lights of a trade show, it is easy to forget to enquire about warranty. Take the time to determine how long your new product’s warranty will last and what constitutes a warranty claim. As an example, consider a six-axis robot. Is the warranty valid for detachable parts such as grip pads or nozzles?
Remember that even reconditioned parts should be backed by a 12-month warranty. Once this formality is established — and confirmed in writing — you can be confident that you will not be caught in a warranty war if the equipment fails.
Is the component compatible with existing equipment?
Purchasing a new machine without considering integration is akin to purchasing a pet goat and expecting it to get along with your cats. It is not impossible, but it is highly unlikely. Factories are a complex ecosystem, and one incompatible component will have an impact on other machines downstream.
By the time you sign on the dotted line for a new robot, you should already know what part of the manufacturing process it will be used for. With what equipment will it interact? Perhaps it’s a pick-and-place robot for use in conjunction with a conveyor. In this case, you must ensure that the machine vision on the line is compatible with both pieces of equipment.
You should also consider whether your production line will allow your equipment to perform optimally. Existing machinery may prevent the robot from achieving the 0.4 second cycle time it is capable of because the conveyor cannot accommodate this speed. As a result, a bottleneck situation develops.
It could be argued that in cases like this, you haven’t targeted the best pain point in production. Asking these questions first will save you from disappointment later.
Is it going to fit?
Have you thought about the arrangement of your shop floor? There are factory floor layout simulators available to examine what your reorganised floor might look like with a new part before making a purchase. When replicating this, keep in mind any additional equipment that may be necessary for your new part. For example, purchasing a robot may need the installation of safety fence, which may add a few metres to the machine’s footprint.
If your part requires fence, you may additionally need to acquire extra safety automation. Mat guards and industrial light curtains are two examples of critical but sometimes overlooked expenses. Is there room in the budget for these extras?