A key part of industrial vacuum pick-and-place systems is end of arm tooling (EOAT). In this blog post, we will explain what EOAT is and what it is not, and we will explore some possible ways to set up EOAT in your vacuum system. EDCO USA's team of vacuum experts are here to help you with your EOAT needs.
End of arm tooling refers to the tool mounted at the end of a robot arm. EOAT achieves complete freedom of motion using a multi-axis robot, allowing the tool to reach into a recess, into a machine, or under an obstruction to manipulate a workpiece. EOAT can consist of various components, including:
- Vacuum Cups
- Clamps & Mounts
- Gripper Fingers
- Sprue Nippers
- Level Compensators
- Vacuum Connections
- And much more!
Using EOAT, robots can use the same tool to do one or more tasks.
The Difference Between EOAT and End Effectors
Whereas EOATs are mounted to a robot arm, end effectors are suspended from overhead. When suspended from a crane or hoist, the term “end of hook” is sometimes used. End effector and EOAT are often conflated and used interchangeably as both tools include the same components. However, they are different tools with different purposes.
Unlike EOAT, end effectors are typically suspended from vacuum tube lifters, jib cranes, and articulated arms that provide vertical movement capabilities. They are used in open areas as they are unsuited to reach very far into a machine or under an obstruction. End effectors are controlled by a human operator who can physically create horizontal movement.
Examples of end effector applications include using a pick-and-place system to put an assembled product into a box or picking a box from a conveyor and placing it onto a pallet in the desired orientation.
Single vs. Multi-Purpose End of Arm Tooling
Vacuum tools can be constructed in two ways: single-purpose, where the same object or objects are always handled, or multi-purpose, where the tool can handle a range of objects by selecting different pre-configured zones.
Single-purpose end of arm tooling works to lift or handle the same object or objects. One example is removing parts from an injection mold. The single-purpose robot EOAT must fit the location of parts, sprues, gates, etc. When a mold is changed to produce a different part, the EOAT must also be changed. This task can be accomplished with minimal downtime by using a quick-change system that consists of a clamp base affixed to the robot arm and a tool plate on each EOAT.
Multi-purpose end of arm tooling is designed to handle a variety of objects by switching between preselected areas. One application is palletizing boxes for shipment. Multi-purpose tools adapt to changes in box size as production switches from one product to another. This EOAT type creates pallet layers by picking multiple boxes and positioning them in a layer to create a stable interlocking pattern. Zoning is simplified by eliminating the clutter and complex routing of compressed air lines and vacuum lines.
There is no one-size-fits-all configuration for end of arm tools, only the best fit for your specific pick-and-place system. Various components, sources, and methods are available to meet the needs of any vacuum application. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Central or distributed vacuum sources
- Various workpiece release methods
- Atmospheric quick release (AQR) valves
- Piloted quick release (PQR) valves
- And much, much more!
USA-Made End of Arm Tooling Components
For decades, EDCO USA has provided industry-leading vacuum cups, pumps, and system accessories for industrial pick-and-place systems. While we don’t build end of arm tools, we provide the EOAT components your system needs to perform effectively, efficiently, and as designed.
Interested in learning more about how EDCO can help you maximize your EOAT’s potential? Visit our FAQ page or contact us today. We’ll help you create a robotic vacuum system to complete your application.