Robots with regenerative braking help to reduce energy costs

03 November 2022

Reducing energy consumption is high on the list of priorities for most manufacturers today, and so maximising the efficiency of robots will be of significant interest across all industrial sectors.

Features such as regenerative braking can make a big difference to the efficiency of robots, recovering braking energy and feeding it back into the power grid without the need for additional hardware. Yaskawa has developed a solution for the recovery of robot braking energy and offers this feature as standard on its larger Motoman robot’s with a payload upwards of 50kg.

The YRC1000 robot controls are able to convert kinetic energy from the down and sideways movements directly into 400V AC at 50 Hz and feed in back into the grid. Depending on the movement pattern of the application, energy requirements can be significantly reduced. 

In applications such as handling, palletising, joining and processing, industrial robots make many down or sideway movements during which the servomotors dissipate energy and potentially generating electricity. In older robots, the resulting energy has been converted to waste heat by control technology through electrical resistance and lost to the environment. In the Yaskawa solution the electric energy is fed back into the operator network – without the need for additional hardware so it can be re-used.

The extent of savings depends on the specific application and the robots individual movement patterns, although realistically savings ranging from 8% to 25% can be anticipated which may result in annual feed-ins of about 2,800 kWh, equivalent to around 1600 kg CO2.

The slim and compact design of Motoman robots, with low moving masses and fast application of brakes during movement intervals, also enables the active position control to be switched off when not in use which increase the potential for greater efficiency.

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