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Understanding Accuracy and Precision in Industrial Robotics

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Industrial robot manufacturing has become one of the most common ways to take tasks and make them more automated. Among the biggest issues that come with creating and deploying industrial robots are concerns about accuracy and precision. Both are critical elements of industrial processes, and they're not always mutually exclusive. Take a closer look at what accuracy and precision are and why they're relevant to robotics.

What Are Accuracy and Precision?

Suppose you want to create a bunch of widgets for the mass market. If you mean to use robots to make these widgets, you'll want to create a design. Subsequent versions of the widgets that go to market will then be copies based on the original design. Accuracy is a measure of how close to the original model the subsequent widgets are. To measure accuracy, you could take a representative sample of the widgets and determine just how close to the original they are. The less variation you see between the widgets and the original model, the more accurate the process is.

Precision is a measure of how well the process repeats. To measure precision, you would take the same representative sample and compare them to each other. You might notice that some widgets have more rough edges than others or that some are slightly different in weight from each other. The less variation you see among the manufactured widget, the more precise your process is.

Does This Matter?

The answer depends a lot on what you need to get from industrial robot manufacturing processes. For example, a low-precision process might produce more waste. Similarly, a low-accuracy process might produce unsatisfactory results.

Notably, it's perfectly possible to develop industrial robotics solutions that achieve high accuracy and precision. The question for customers is always whether their processes require extra effort in terms of both design and implementation. For example, a highly accurate process might call for slower manufacturing and more moving parts for the robots.

Establishing Standards

When you design a robotic process, the critical thing is to know what your standards for the final results will be. A process for creating a toy, for example, might be fairly tolerant of a half-millimeter difference in width between the toys. Conversely, that sort of seemingly small imprecision could send an airliner falling out of the sky. It's important to establish what your standards are before you move forward with designing and deploying robots to handle tasks.