New manufacturing technologies have generated excitement about the Fourth Industrial Revolution — Industry 4.0 — giving the robotics industry a very bright future in this sector. Technological improvements in robotics, industrial automation, augmented reality (AR), the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and digital lean will boost productivity and efficiency, implying significant economic gains for companies. Robots can assist in manufacturing environments by taking over dangerous, tedious and dirty jobs that are not possible or safe for humans to perform.

Multiple manufacturers are leveraging robotic automation for an increased number of tasks as robots are economical, timesaving and can be scaled for production. And robots are becoming more essential as manufacturing companies face very serious labor shortages that will continue in the coming years. While there may be concern that robots are intended to replace people in manufacturing jobs, robotic automation helps create jobs in manufacturing. Programming engineering, data analysis and systems integration are jobs humans must perform for a robot to work efficiently and effectively in any industry. And with robots performing the menial and repetitive tasks in a plant for longer hours without fatigue, employees are free to work on more complex jobs and maintain a better work/life balance.

Source: Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.Source: Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.

Robots perform many types of work in manufacturing environments: assembly, packaging and materials handling, for instance. They also work in harsh environments such as steel mills, foundries and aluminum smelters where splatter, sparks and pollutants are present. Extreme operating environments can put robotic equipment in serious jeopardy of failure.

As the initial investment for robots and accessories can be very high, there is a definite need for robust protective covers for robotic systems in manufacturing plants. Robot covers can be fabricated as different components including sleeves for robot arms, jackets and full robot covers. By prohibiting dust, pollutants, corrosive chemicals and blast media from infiltrating a robot, you can reduce maintenance costs and down time, and increase productivity (which improves the bottom line). With protective covers, the ROI for robotics is often improved as the robot can work much longer before maintenance is required. Robot covers provide tailored protection for motors, displays, wiring and pneumatic elements that could be compromised while the robot is operating. End-of-arm tooling is especially important as the robot arm typically has the greatest exposure to hazards. To extend the life of a robot the covers need to be designed for the type of protection needed within the robot’s environment, whether it be blasting media, temperature extremes (high or low), splatter, dust, humidity, corrosive chemicals or other environmental factors.

In addition, for a robot cover to perform successfully on a robot with repetitive motion, the cover needs to have a high level of flexural failure resistance, and ease of use. Robot covers that are cumbersome to remove and replace are not ideal in today’s fast-paced manufacturing environments. Mid-Mountain is dedicated to protecting robots as they become more common across various industries. ARMATEX SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX is a fabric Mid-Mountain developed to fabricate the THERMOPAK Robot Covers. Both coating the fabric and fabricating the cover provides a very vertically integrated solution, which offers a high level of quality control throughout the manufacturing process.


Mid-Mountain’s ARMATEX® SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX was developed to combine flexibility with high strength and high resistance to extreme conditions for use in industries such as aluminum, welding, steel, automotive, aerospace and petrochemical. A very high strength, aromatic polyamide woven base fabric is used, which has a higher strength than most meta-aramid fibers. The strength of the woven fabric allows for very high flexural failure resistance and has high crystallinity. The coating is a highly specialized, high performance silicone elastomer that can be coated in various colors to designate a robot’s function or department of operation. Once coated, the fabric exhibits high tensile properties as well as very high chemical and thermal stability.

Mid-Mountain has continued to work closely in partnership with plant, process and maintenance engineers, as well as managers and supervisors to determine the optimal robot cover solution to protect a company’s investment and keep automation initiatives on track. While ARMATEX SBN 13-602 ROBOTEX provides the highest flexural properties, other coating and fabrics can be used to protect robotics. By studying a robot’s movements, the environment they are working in and the chemicals used in the manufacturing process, Mid-Mountain can determine which cover design and materials will be best suited for the application. Mid-Mountain can also help to determine if a reusable or disposable cover is more appropriate for an application and take into consideration OSHA and EPA requirements.

In summary, robots are becoming more popular in manufacturing companies due to the benefits they provide:

· Robots can perform the repetitive, monotonous and dangerous tasks humans do not want to perform.

· With Industry 4.0, robots are propelling manufacturing companies into higher tech operations.

· Automation reduces manufacturing costs, allowing U.S. companies to be more competitive.

· Robots increase automation uptime.

· As robots take on more functional tasks, humans can then use their intelligence to monitor the data the robots provide to improve processes.

After making the investment in a robot, it is imperative to take the next step to protect an investment. Robot covers are essential in harsh operating environments and will make the automation journey much smoother.

Mid-Mountain is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company. They take great pride in innovation and craftsmanship and look forward to helping customers protect their robot and industrial automation products.