When you manufacture something as high tech as robots, you certainly don’t want such a plain little thing as a simple bolt to become a big problem. Occasionally it does happen, though and it did happen to one of our European customers. Fasteners were frequently getting loose on their robots after they were put in service, causing leaks on hydraulic fittings and flange assemblies. And anyone who’s ever worked with hydraulics knows very well that you do not want your hydraulic liquids to be leaking all over the place.
While for the users of the robots in question this was a maintenance issue causing frequent unexpected downtime and losses in productivity, for the manufacturer of the robots it was both, the cost issue, reflected through warranty repairs, but more importantly, a reputation issue and an issue of urgently having to restore the customers’ trust in their product.
Industrial robots, from engineering point of view, are highly dynamic assemblies. Movement is their main purpose, while they put things into place and build in components of various items they are programmed to build. With that much movement, it’s completely unrealistic to expect the threaded fasteners to stay in place without securing them in any way.
Luckily, adding a simple step in the production of applying medium strength threadlocker Loctite 243 to the crucial bolts, all the mentioned issues were completely eliminated, and the trusted robotic helpers were brought back to their usual level of reliability. At the same time both sides achieved savings: on one side savings on maintenance costs and downtime, and on the other on warranty repairs and reputation.