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An industrial robotic system is an investment that can pay off quickly and deciding which robot is best suited for your production line can be challenging. When selecting a robot for a particular industrial application, there are many elements to take into consideration. elliTek's Systems Group shares the features that should be considered when selecting your industrial robot or cobot.

Take a listen to elliTek's podcast, Industrial Robotics - It Doesn't Have To... Be Complex. You'll learn about the types of robots and how they are used in manufacturing, but first, Brandon gives us his definitions for some industry terms.

The basic starting points you should consider for any automation project are load, orientation, speed, travel, precision, environment, and duty cycle. Here are the main robot specifications to take into consideration when buying an industrial robot or cobot.


Axis refers to the degree of freedom or the number of moveable "joints" of a robot. The number and placement of the axes determine the flexibility and functionality of the robot. The number of axes also has a direct connection to the number of motors in the robot. Industrial robots can have one to ten or more axes.

The range of motion for an industrial robot is also determined by the number of axes. The more axes the higher range of motion. Each axis has a specific motion. The degree of movement is measured from the center base position of each axis.

If your application has speed specifications, robot motion speed needs to be considered. Each axis moves at a different speed and is listed as degrees traveled per second.

Repeatability is when the robot returns to the same position over and over again. For precise applications, look for tighter repeatability figures. These are normally listed as plus or minus alterations in millimeters from the point.


Robot payload is the weight a robot arm can lift and it includes the weight of the end of arm tooling (EOAT). It is critical to include both the weight of the part and the tooling to determine the payload capacity for your application.

For applications that require robot installation on a pedestal, table, or shelf, the specific robot mass should also be considered.


A robot's work envelope is the space in which the robot can reach. Vertical reach is the height of the robot from its base. This is useful to determine if the robot is tall enough. Horizontal reach is the distance from the base to the robot's "wrist" when it's fully extended. This is helpful to ascertain the width needed for the work envelope.


There are six types of industrial robots:  Articulated, Cartesian, Cylindrical, Polar, SCARA, and Delta. The most common types of industrial robots are Articulated and Cartesian.

Collaborative robots (cobots) are considered Articulated robots because they have axes. Learn more about cobots and what makes them different than industrial robot arms here.


Safety equipment is critical for industrial robotic systems and workcells. Barrier guarding helps keep associates safe while the robot is in motion. Types of physical guarding include fencing, arc glare shields, and dividers. Light curtains or area scanners may be used as a backup means of protection when an associate crosses the threshold barrier. Emergency Stops are used to stop the robot immediately.

Collaborative robots (cobots) are designed to safely work next to associates without the need for physical guarding. Cobots have built-in safety-rated monitored stops, limited power and force, and speed and separation monitoring. A risk assessment of the task should be performed to identify any hazards beforehand.

The basic starting points you should consider for any automation project are load, orientation, speed, travel, precision, environment, and duty cycle. Learn more about the steps for implementing automation and how to choose the right robot.


Keep in mind, elliTek's Systems Group is here to help match you with the right robot that is the most efficient and effective solution for your facility.

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