Built for Us, Now Available for yoUR Cobot
by Rob Goldiez, on Apr 16, 2020 11:43:33 AM
There's term in business called "dogfooding" or "eating your own dogfood". It refers to technology or products a company offers that it relies on itself. Typically, companies that are dogfooding are acutely aware of the problems that end users face because they, too, face them daily.
Hirebotics Cloud Tools falls into this category. We have cloud connected Universal Robots since our founding in 2015. It is critical to our business model of hiring out robots where we earn our keep only when our cobots are delivering value. We have a robust set of cloud tools that are mobile first for remotely monitoring and supporting customers. We are making those tools available to the community so that you can be a superhero.
This post will share how our technology is fundamentally different and uniquely powerful because, like you, we have cobot applications to support also!
Background on Hirebotics
Our customers are spread out around the United States and Canada, yet we're based in Nashville, TN. They are promised, they expect, and we deliver 'round the clock support wherever they are located. To do this effectively, you must have a robust set of tools and capabilities keeping tabs on your cobots.
We have cloud connected 100% of the cobots we have deployed from Universal Robots. This is a fundamental requirement of our business model because we are take on the responsibility of keeping the application performing. Our software must be up to the task (and it is!) to monitor and support cobots in the field and enhancement the experience for our customers.
When you purchase a cobot (or any asset) you're paying now for expected value in the future. With Hirebotics, it's different — we receive value when as we create it for you.
Developed for Our Own Needs
From our early days we have developed and refined a robust set of tools that is leveraged on every cobot we've deployed. These capabilities generally falls in one of three categories:
- General data available on all Universal Robot cobots
- Application specific event data and tools to help troubleshoot and diagnose potential issues in the future
- Application specific event data to help a customer better understand their process
One of the great things about Universal Robots is their open architecture. Their well documented, although a bit technical, interfaces expose a wealth of information that makes it relatively straightforward to capture things like protective stops (e.g., a robot collision) or safeguard stops (e.g., an area scanner is triggered), status of IO, values of variables and more.
Often times additional, application specific events need to be specified and captured to help future troubleshooting. This takes a bit of experience to understand how an application could be problematic in the future and some discipline to sprinkle about analytics to help monitor application specific characteristics over time. Sometimes this is logging, other times it's event data to be charted to monitor trends.
Finally, customers enjoy in-app analytics to follow their process better, over time. Beyond the basics like "made a part", there is often times other data that customers want to see and chart: waiting time (how long the cobot was waiting for parts or some other interaction from an operators), measurement data from a camera system, reject rates / reject reasons, and more.
These examples are just a few of the capabilities we have developed to manage UR cobots in the field, often times cobots that are thousands of miles away.
The Existing Options Suck
There are several existing options available for cloud connecting UR cobots. Most of the existing solutions are NOT very good and that's to be expected because the existing companies providing these "solutions" don't have experience actually managing and supporting cobots doing production work.
For example, all of the existing solutions require additional hardware gateways to make any meaningful use of their advertised capabilities. All of them have some cost associated with them, even for basic cloud capabilities.
And the "solutions" that claim to offer remote support capabilities are simply using VNC to provide a window into Polyscope. This means an engineer needs to be "looking" 👀 at Polyscope while there is a standing issue OR to be actively "watching" for some scenario to occur - a highly inefficient use of your time.
These other tools available are so underwhelming that we felt compelled to share our capabilities with the entire UR community.
Now Available for yoURs
Without any additional hardware, without any cost to you, you can take advantage of Hirebotics' Cloud Tools to manage your cobots from Universal Robots. These tools will run on your CB-Series or e-Series cobots and the setup process is simple and straightforward.
We will continue to release our internal capabilities for general use among the community. We will also be sharing some of our tips and tricks to successfully deploy and manage cobots. Let us know if there's something in particular you need to manage your cobots!