Network Integration for Robot Workcells 376

This class covers basic concepts and components of robot workcells and integrating them into industrial networks. Knowledge of industrial networks and robot workcells can help optimize many aspects of a manufacturing operation, such as improving production speeds and efficiency, product quality, and facility communication. Robot workcell integration improves automation, allowing software to send, receive, and analyze data to optimize automated tasks.

Manufacturers desire personnel who are familiar with trends in robotic technology as well as industrial networks. After completing this course, users will understand the basic functions and components of industrial networks and robot workcells, recognize the design of different robot workcells, and understand steps for managing the complexities associated networked robots.

  • Difficulty Advanced

  • Format Online

  • Number of Lessons 10

  • Language English


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Course Outline
  • Industrial Networks
  • Robot Workcell
  • Robot Workcell Layout
  • Workcell Control
  • Robot Workcell Review
  • Network Design
  • Wired and Wireless Networks
  • Network Integration
  • Robot Network Monitoring and Security
  • Networked Robot Review
  • Describe an industrial network.
  • Describe the components of a robot workcell.
  • Describe different robot workcell layouts.
  • Describe the types of control used to operate a robot workcell.
  • Describe common network components for robotic systems.
  • Distinguish between wired and wireless networks.
  • Describe robot workcell integration into an industrial network.
  • Describe network monitoring and security.
Vocabulary Term


A fifth-generation wireless network that receives and transmits radio wave signals from mobile phones and other wireless devices. 5G networks are often owned by mobile phone companies or wireless internet carriers.

articulated robots

A type of robot with two or more segments connected by revolute joints that closely resembles a human arm. Articulated robots, or robotic arms, often perform manufacturing operations.


A manufacturing process in which two or more components are joined together to create a finished part. Assembly processes using robots assisted by vision systems are efficient, consistent, and more accurate than human assembly.


The use of mechanical systems that operate with limited human interaction. Process automation traditionally uses PLCs for control, but automation using smart technology is becoming more common.

autonomous guided vehicle

AGV. A programmable autonomous vehicle, often integrated with sensor technology, that moves throughout a space. Automated guided vehicles are often used in warehouses.

bus topology

A network configuration in which all the nodes are connected to a common cable line with two endpoints. Bus topology is easy to connect and does not require a lot of cable.

communication link

A channel that connects two or more devices on a network. A communication link may be a physical medium or a virtual connection.


The main device that processes information and carries out instructions in a robot. The controller has a central processing unit (CPU) and provides the means for interfacing with the robot, saving programs, and processing instructions to drive the robot.


Protection against criminal or unauthorized access to computer networks, programs, and data. Cybersecurity has become a major industrial concern as networking and connectivity have increased.

cycle times

The actual time it takes to perform a task and forward it to the next step. Cycle times can be reduced when robots are communicating on a network.

emergency stops

E-stop. A button or switch that brings a machine to a safe and rapid stop. Emergency stops are important safety features that are intended to be used in case of emergencies.

end effectors

A device attached to the end of a robot arm in order to interact with a part, component, or material. The end effector may be a gripper that allows the robot to pick up objects and place them down.


A common local area network standard that is the most popular type of network for office communication. Industrial Ethernet is a form of Ethernet used in manufacturing.


A network protocol used for industrial environments. EtherNet/IP uses Ethernet cable for transmission and is transmitted through TCP/IP layers.


A type of industrial network and protocol that uses a distributed control system so that multiple PLCs can communicate. Fieldbus is an open protocol designed to be used with multiple networks.


A software program or hardware device that allows intended internet communications over a network while blocking access to unauthorized users or websites. Firewall software can be installed on a digital system like other software packages.


A dexterous material-handling component that resembles and performs similarly to a human hand. Grippers allow robots to perform tasks such as handling small parts or assembling components.


Human-machine interface. A device connected to a machine that allows operators to control a machine or a process. An HMI may have a touch screen or a control pad.

human-machine interface

HMI. A device connected to a machine that allows operators to monitor and control a machine or process. A human-machine interface may have a touch screen or control pad.

industrial networks

An internet or intranet network used to connect devices for factory automation and process control applications. Industrial networks can include robots in automated processes.

industrial PC

A processor-driven computing device for industrial use. An industrial PC may be used to program devices on a network.

in-line robot workcell

A robot workcell arrangement in which one or more robots are placed along a conveyor. An in-line robot workcell is often used for robots in the automotive industry.

input/output devices

I/O devices. A component that connects to an input/output module on a PLC and performs an action. Each input/output device, or field device, has its own electrical requirement.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

IEEE. An organization composed of engineers, scientists, and students. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers sets standards for the computer and electronics industries.


Connecting a device or system to another device or system. Industrial PCs and HMIs interface with robot controllers for programming and monitoring.


Barriers with tripping mechanisms that prevent a sequence from continuing until a certain set of conditions has been satisfied. Interlocks, when tripped, make starting a robot impossible until the interlocks are replaced.


The amount of time it takes data to become available in a database. Low latency is better for real-time data transmission.

light curtains

A field of light that stops a machine when the light is blocked by an object. Light curtains prevent mechanical parts from striking workers and equipment.

local area network

LAN. A type of wired network that enables communication between a group of computing devices in a specific geographic location. Local area networks are commonly used by manufacturers and other organizations to store and exchange digital information across a large facility.

machine tending

The process of loading and unloading materials into machinery for processing. Machine tending robots are precise and often use sensors to monitor processes.

material handling

The process of loading, unloading, placing, or manipulating material. Material handling operations often require highly repetitive tasks that are ideal for robotic work.

mesh topology

A network configuration in which multiple nodes are connected to one another along multiple paths. Mesh topologies include partial and full mesh structures.

mobile robot workcell

A robot workcell arrangement in which a robot can move freely along a track or a moveable base. A mobile robot workcell will use sensors to guide the robot through its programmed workspace.

mobile robots

A robot that is able to travel between locations. Mobile robots often use tracks or a set of independent wheels to move.

motion control

Controlling the movement of machine elements. Motion control is produced by using a mechanical source of power like an actuator.

network switches

A network hardware device that allows different nodes on the network to communicate with each other. Switches have the ability to selectively forward data packets to a specific destination.

network topology

The configuration of network cables and devices. Common network topologies include point-to-point, ring, star, bus, and mesh topologies.

networked robots

A robotic device connected to a communications network. Networked robots are able to communicate with one another.

offline programming

A method of robot instruction where a programmer or computer engineer creates the instructions for a robotic operation independently of the robot. Offline programming involves either writing all the instructions for an operation or using a computer simulation.


The process of placing and securing containers or objects on pallets. Palletizing robots are especially useful for moving objects that would be too difficult or too heavy for humans to move.

peripheral devices

A physical device connected to a wired or wireless network that performs an auxiliary function. Peripheral devices communicate with a controller.


Programmable logic controller. A processor-driven device that uses logic-based software to provide electrical control to machines. PLCs are used in factory automation.

presence-sensing devices

Mechanisms used to detect the location of people or objects near hazardous areas of a machine. Presence-sensing devices often use pressure-sensitive mats or light curtains.

programmable logic controllers

PLC. A processor-driven device that uses logic-based software to provide electrical control to machines. Programmable logic controllers are used in factory automation.


The length of a fully extended robot from its base to the tip of the end effector. A robot's reach determines the size of its work envelope.

robot workcell

The area that includes a robot and any external devices or equipment that interact with the robot. Robot workcells are used in many applications in a wide variety of manufacturing industries.

robot-centered workcell

A robot workcell arrangement in which a robot is placed at the center of a workspace. A robot-centered workcell has peripheral devices and equipment positioned around the robot.

robotic arms

A type of robot with two or more segments connected by revolute joints that closely resembles a human arm. Robotic arms, or articulated robots, often perform manufacturing operations.


An interconnecting device that can connect two types of networks with different protocols, such as a local area network and a wireless network. A router determines where information packets should go and sends them to their destination by the shortest, most efficient route.


A device that detects the presence or absence of an object, certain properties of an object, environmental changes, or the internal state of a robot, and provides feedback. Sensors allow robots to have an awareness of their environment.

sequence control

Controlling the order of programmed events. Sequence control can also control simultaneous processes.

smart manufacturing

Technologically integrated manufacturing that creates and uses data in real time to address the needs of the factory, supplier, and customer. Smart manufacturing is an advancement of traditional manufacturing automation.

smart sensors

A device equipped with software that can detect physical inputs, process them as data, and output digital signals. Smart sensors are more advanced than normal digital sensors since they can process data internally rather than simply sending digital signals to an external system to be processed.

star topology

A network configuration in which each node on the network is connected to a central controller. In a star configuration, the controller takes an active role in analyzing and transmitting data packets while the nodes passively receive the information.

teach pendant

A handheld device used to control a robot during online programming. Teach pendants may have control buttons, a joystick, an E-stop button, or a touch screen.


The rate of production for a process over a specific amount of time. Throughput can be optimized with smart manufacturing.

transmission control protocol/internet protocol

TCP/IP. A suite of communication protocols used for internet or intranet networks. Transmission control protocol/internet protocol breaks a data message into packets to send through a network and then reassembles the message when it reaches its destination.

vision system

A collection of advanced optical components that collects data and forms an image, which is interpreted by a computer. Vision systems can be used to measure and inspect manufactured parts using the collected image data.


A flaw within an operating system, application, or hardware. System vulnerabilities can be leveraged by hackers to make a system behave in unintended ways.


A joining process that uses either pressure or heat generated by friction, electricity, or the combustion of gases to permanently fuse two materials together. Production welding is often performed by robots.


A type of wireless network that enables communication between devices at a single geographical location. WiFi networks are typically established by connecting a wireless access point to a wired internet device.

wireless local area network

WLANs. A type of wireless network that enables communication between devices at a single geographical location. Wireless local area networks, commonly referred to as WiFi networks, are typically established by connecting a wireless access point to a wired internet device.

work envelope

The defined area of space through which a robot can move. The work envelope is dangerous for operators to enter unless the robot is powered down.


An arrangement of machines, tooling, materials, and operators structured around the design of similar products. Workcells encourage smooth product flows and use space efficiently.