Blog post by Nick Sadro, Controls Engineer
I was recently working on a large project where I was responsible for programming several Yaskawa Motoman robots for material handling and dispensing applications. Over the course of a few months and many hours spent with a Motoman teach pendant in my hand, I learned several tips and pointers to make programming these robots easier and more efficient.
Shifting Specific Points
The dispensing robot programs were very large and had a lot of points. Over the course of the project, I spent a lot of time changing and touching up points. One day, the mechanical fixture holding the product changed. This meant the robot paths would need to change as well. However, the product position did not change uniformly. Some portions of the product were in the same previous position, but the edges were bent further than previously. Since the change was not uniform, I couldn’t do a simple frame shift. I thought I would have to touch up each of the points individually. This would have meant changing about one hundred points, one at a time.
After doing some path modifications manually, I found a handy tool in the Motoman teach pendant software. The Program Parallel Shift tool allows the programmer to shift points in certain sections of the code by a set unit. Using this tool, I was able to change the points in the code where the part position was altered while leaving the accurate points alone. I identified the code sections where points needed to be changed, measured the change needed, typed the information into the teach pendant window, and the Motoman software took care of the rest. This ended up saving me a lot of time in the long run and prevented a lot of painstaking reteaching of points.
Add Comments and Change Code in Notepad++
Another tip I learned was an easy way to add comments or change multiple lines of code quickly. When programming, I make a point to include lots of comments to help myself and any future engineers who need to look at the program. However, anyone using a teach pendant knows that it is a slow and painful process to type detailed comments into a robot teach pendant, even one with a touch screen. Using the built in USB port on the Motoman DX200 teach pendants, I exported my individual subroutines to my flash drive. Once I transferred these files into my computer, I was able to open the files and make edits directly to the robot code from my computer. I used Notepad++ to make my edits, but any simple text editor works, including Notepad. This allowed me to type in descriptive comments quickly on my laptop. Once I was done, I simply transferred the files back to the flash drive and loaded them into the teach pendant. Program edits could also be done directly to the program code if the user is careful to follow the correct format.
Lastly, an additional Motoman feature I utilized was the reverse paste function. Using the reverse paste function lets the user copy a section of code and paste it in the reverse order. For example, if a robot follows a certain path to approach a part, often it needs to follow the same path to move away from a part. Instead of manually teaching each of the same points again in the reverse order, the Motoman teach pendant allows the user to copy the desired range, and then paste the same code and points in the reverse order. This saves the programmer time when programming the robot to move along the same path.
These are some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned while programming Motoman robots. Through my Motoman programming experience, these methods have helped me save time and get the project done sooner and more efficiently. I hope these tips can save other engineers time and make their programming more efficient as well.