Removing Barriers to Automation Adoption

‘No Coding’ Robot Deployment Technology Simplifies Deployment

No code programming automates the deployment process based on a few inputs, such as pick position, workpiece attributes, and cell boundaries. Image Courtesy of OnRobot.

By Kristian Hulgard, General Manager – Americas, OnRobot

Collaborative automation — a term that encompasses collaborative robot (‘cobot’) and lightweight industrial robot arms and peripherals such as grippers — has transformed the way humans interact with robots.

Manual packaging and palletizing tasks are ideal candidates for collaborative automation because they are repetitive and unergonomic. With widespread labor shortages throughout the manufacturing and industrial sectors, especially when it comes to roles involving manual work, cobots have become a popular choice for packaging and palletizing applications. Workers appreciate being freed from tedious tasks, and manufacturers can fill labor gaps, boost productivity and improve both quality and consistency.

Usability Advances

In the domain of collaborative automation, easy-to-understand user interfaces have replaced the clunky programming interfaces of old. Moreover, hand-guiding — a process that allows you to define robot paths by hand instead of having to manually code every step— has taken huge chunks out of the wall of complexity when it comes to deploying automation quickly and effectively.

Meanwhile, ‘low/no-code programming’ approaches incorporate visual modeling and drag-and-drop user interfaces. Little programming knowledge is required to operate these systems, especially if the application is an extremely simple one. If, on the other hand, the application has any complexity, some programming knowledge will be required to ensure an effective deployment.

Despite the incremental improvements that have been made in terms of end-user usability, the reality is that many collaborative automation deployments still require the input of expert integrators with domain specific knowledge of leading cobot brands and peripherals.

The complexity traditionally involved in integrating robot arms and peripherals and then coding the robot to perform its specific task are the primary reasons why deployments take longer than they could. It’s one thing to simplify the integration coding process, but knowledge of the principles of robot code is required for all but the most basic applications. And that takes time and expertise.

But what would deploying robots be like if no coding were required?  It would be possible for companies to deploy automation themselves, without relying on integrators. And for integrators, it would mean being able to deploy more automation faster, meet growing end-user demand, and grow their business.

No Coding Required

By automatically creating all the program logic, signals exchange, event handling and robot movement, D:PLOY enables complete packaging and palletizing applications to be created and deployed in just a few clicks. Image Courtesy of OnRobot.

A new approach to collaborative automation deployments, powered by technology that eliminates coding altogether, addresses these challenges.

Instead of asking how coding can be made easier for both integrators and end-users, this new approach starts from a different perspective — one in which people can quickly and successfully deploy collaborative automation on palletizing applications with no coding or programming knowledge being required whatsoever.

If traditional automation takes months and even years to deploy, and collaborative automation takes days and weeks, this new approach can cut deployment times to mere hours and minutes. The human-machine interface — the aspect of it that’s related to the complexities involved in deploying automation quickly and effectively — has never been more accessible to people without any robot programming experience whatsoever.

Dubbed ‘D:PLOY’, this new interface for deploying automation fully automates the process of building, running, monitoring, and re-deploying collaborative automation. Full applications, such as palletizing, can be deployed and redeployed directly on the manufacturing floor in just a few simple steps, with zero programming required. The result is up to 90%-time savings compared to conventional automation deployments.

To use the new system, end-users install some hardware and configure their robot. Then they scan QR codes to connect their device to the hardware and login. From there, the system will automatically discover the installed hardware, which means that users need to spend less time setting up the robot and programming the interface to control tools and other cell components. Based on obstacles and cell boundaries defined in the workspace, D:PLOY will automatically generate the robot motion — in a way that ensures collision-free movement.

Next, end-users provide workpiece attributes and define the workpiece pick position. Based on the complexity of the application, a few other inputs may be needed to complete the setup, such as adding an ’event’  that tells the robot what to do in different situations, such as, for example, when the grip on a workpiece is insufficient.

Once these steps are completed, the new technology automatically creates all the program logic, signals exchange, event handling and robot movement for the entire application. And it optimizes these elements in the background to ensure the application has the shortest cycle time. You now have a full palletizing application that’s available at the click of a button.

In many respects, D:PLOY technology is the culmination and realization of the original promise of collaborative automation for end users — automation that anyone can set up and use quickly with a minimum of fuss.

About the Author

Company Name: OnRobot A/S

Company website:

Author’s email: kristian.hulgard@onrobot.com

Kristian Hulgard is the General Manager – Americas at OnRobot. OnRobot produces a wide assortment of tools and software for collaborative applications, including its D:PLOY software, electric, vacuum and magnetic grippers, the award-winning Gecko gripping technology, force/torque sensors, a 2.5D vision system, screwdriver, sander kits and tool changers. Supported by the free Learn OnRobot e-learning platform, OnRobot makes it easy to deploy collaborative automation on tasks such as packaging, quality control, materials handling, machine tending, assembly, and surface finishing regardless of skill level or previous robotics experience.  Learn more at  https://onrobot.com/en.

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