Switching From Manual to Automated Sanding

Switching From Manual to Automated Sanding

Even when armed with the latest handheld sanding tools, manual sanding is a difficult, time-consuming and repetitive task that carries the added risk of causing repetitive strain injury, white finger syndrome or worse. At the same time, humans find it difficult to perform sanding tasks consistently throughout an entire shift, which leads to quality control issues with your finished product.


These issues make sanding an ideal task for automated sanding solutions, which will improve consistency and quality and reduce scrap rate. But what factors should you keep in mind when first thinking about investing in a robotic sanding system?


Focus on the application

Firstly, it's important to focus on a specific manual sanding task that you wish to automate. Break the process down into its constituent parts and consider which elements could be automated. Repeat this process for different sanding tasks and you'll have a useful set of criteria to work with when it comes to evaluating your automation options. Further questions to consider during this phase, include: Do you need heavy-duty sanding work done? Will you be working on one type of product or on mixed batches? How much time and how many resources are currently dedicated to manual sanding tasks?


Understand your options

While robots outperform humans when it comes to sanding tasks, remember that not all robotic sanding solutions are made equal. Automatic sanding machines, for example, have been in use for decades, but they are often expensive, difficult to program and have a large footprint. Although a proven fit for heavy-duty sanding tasks on single products in mass production environments, automated sanding machines remain too costly and bulky for most small to medium size companies. 


Manufacturers specializing in high mix/low volume production runs will need a flexible solution that can quickly be redeployed to different products and sanding tasks, and in these cases, a collaborative sanding application is often the best fit.


Budgetary constraints

Traditional industrial robots with specialist sanding end-effectors provide excellent sanding performance, but they are also expensive and complicated to program, requiring expert integrators and robot coders to set up, adding further cost and complexity to the project. Collaborative robots are much more affordable than their traditional counterparts, making them a good fit for companies of all sizes and budgets. The additional features of collaborative sanding solutions make them a cost-effective, compelling choice for a wide range of surface finishing jobs.



Lighter and smaller than traditional industrial robotic setups, collaborative solutions are easy to move around and redeploy for other purposes. Remember that not all collaborative sanding solutions deliver the same performance, with differences in functionality, cost and usability being important features to keep an eye on. Can the system handle different parts easily or is extensive downtime and programming involved? Is the sanding system also capable of handling grinding, cleaning and polishing tasks? Can the sanding end-effector support both flat and curved part geometries? Does the system come with all the hardware/software and accessories you need to get started quickly and with the minimum of cost and fuss?



Safety is key to most employers. While traditional robot applications require safety cages and extensive safety protocols, collaborative applications are designed for safer use around people. If you're looking for sanding automation that’s to be used in close proximity to human workers, then a collaborative sanding system is the most suitable choice.


In-house expertise

Evaluate the level of in-house robotics expertise in your facility. Can your existing in-house resources handle robot programming tasks? How much experience does your team have with robot operation and maintenance? How much training is required to become proficient on both the robot and the sanding tool? Will expert robot programmers have to be flown in every time there is an issue with the system?


Collaborative systems offer a real advantage here, as they usually easy to program, so always ask whether a setup can be operated by users with little or no prior robotics experience. If your company can handle robot programming (and major hardware investment), it might make sense to consider a traditional industrial robot – or an automated sanding machine – for your sanding processes.


Entering the market: Collaborative Electric Sander   

OnRobot developed the OnRobot Sander to help manufacturers set up robotic sanding applications in the easiest possible way and at the lowest possible price. The OnRobot Sander offers the pathway of least resistance to sanding automation adoption. In terms of cost, ease of use, performance and versatility, it’s a ground-breaking product that combines unprecedented levels of usability with consistent sanding performance.


Designed to remove the barriers of cost and complexity often seen with competing sanding systems, OnRobot Sander's software is user-friendly and requires no previous robotics experience to operate. Hand-guiding features add to the intuitive programming experience, as it allows users to easily program the sanding tool by physically moving it where they want it to be and saving the position.


It’s a complete, out of the box solution that ships with a Plug & Produce sanding tool, a variety of standard sanding and polishing pads, easy-to-use programming software, an optional force/torque sensor and a grit changer that enables automated switching between different sanding grits without operator intervention. The OnRobot Sander offers all these features at a cost that won't break the bank and requires no robotics expertise to operate.


Ready to find out more about sanding automation? Talk to one of our experts about your sanding processes 


Privacy Policy for processing and protecting personal data

This data protection policy applies to OnRobot.

The purpose of the policy is to ensure and document that OnRobot protects personal data in accordance with the rules for processing of personal data. The policy will also contribute to OnRobot providing information about its processing and use of registered personal data.

The policy will be reviewed each year.

Record of the processing of personal data

OnRobot processes personal data about:

  • Employees

  • Customers

  • Suppliers

  • Applicants

OnRobot has prepared a record of the processing of personal data. The record provides an overview of the processing for which OnRobot is responsible.

The personal data must be provided in order for OnRobot to enter into employment, customer and supplier contracts.

Purpose and lawfulness of the processing

Personal data are processed and archived in connection with:

  • HR management, including recruitment, hiring, dismissal and payment of salary

  • Master data for customers as well as orders and sales

  • Master data for suppliers as well as requisition forms and purchases

  • Contracts

Processing is legal by the authority specified in the appended record.

OnRobot does not use the personal data for purposes other than those listed. OnRobot does not collect more personal data than necessary to meet the purpose. 

Storage and erasure

OnRobot has introduced the following overall guidelines for storage and erasure of personal data:

  • Personal data are stored in physical folders.

  • Personal data are stored in IT systems and on server drives.

  • Personal data are not stored for longer than necessary to meet the purpose of the processing.

  • Personal data for employees are erased five years after employment has ended, and personal data about applicants are erased after six months.

Data security

Based on the appended risk assessment, OnRobot has implemented security measures to protect personal data:

  • Only employees with a work-related need to access the registered personal data have access to the data, either physically or via IT systems with rights management.

  • All computers are password protected and employees may not disclose their passwords to others.

  • Computers must have firewall and antivirus software installed, which must be updated regularly.

  • Personal data are erased securely in connection with phasing-out and repair of IT equipment.

  • USB flash drives, external hard disks, etc. containing personal data must be stored in a locked drawer or cabinet.

  • Physical folders are placed in a locked office or in locked cabinets.

  • Personal data in physical folders are erased by shredding.

  • All employees must be instructed in what to do with personal data and how to protect personal data.


Website and Cookie

  • The Personal Data Regulation allows you to treat personal data only legally for the purpose for which they have been collected. If you want to use data for purposes other than the original, you must always have the consent of the registrant.

  • Upon receipt of a business card from a customer you have his consent. If you write his information you need his signature on this paper to have a formal requirement for consent if you want to use his information. Then the customer allows OnRobot to use his data for purposes other than communication, upcoming promotions, product updates or further news including upcoming promotions, product updates and further news.

  • According to the Cookie Act, OnRobot must have the user’s consent to use this software on the user’s equipment. On The company’s intranet or similar closed group, the rules in the E-data protection directive do not apply.


Personal data about employees may be disclosed to public authorities such as the Danish Customs and Tax Administration and pension companies.


OnRobot only uses processors if they are able to provide the required guarantees that they will implement appropriate technical and organisational security measures to comply with personal data law. All processors must sign a processor agreement before processing commences.


OnRobot safeguards the rights of data subjects, including the right to access, withdrawal of consent, rectification and erasure and will inform the data subjects of OnRobot’s processing of personal data. Data subjects are also entitled to appeal to the Danish Data Protection Agency.

Personal data breach

In case of personal data breach, OnRobot will report the breach to the Danish Data Protection Agency as soon as possible and within 72 hours. The manager is responsible for this reporting taking place. The report will outline the breach, the groups of persons affected and the impact the breach may have on these persons and how OnRobot has remedied or intends to remedy the breach. If the breach entails a high risk for the persons about whom OnRobot processes personal data, OnRobot will also notify these persons. OnRobot s will document any personal data breach on an access-controlled drive.

Erasure of data

The customer should assess when personal data need to be erased by asking the question:

When is it no longer necessary to store the personal data?

OnRobot follows the practice of the Danish Data Protection Agency:

Applications Are erased after 6 months in connection with job interviews. Unsolicited applications are erased immediately.
Employee data Are erased 5 years after termination of employment.
CCTV surveillance Is erased after 30 days.
Telephone conversations Are erased immediately or after up to 3 months.
Accounting records Must be stored for 5 years from the end of the financial year.


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How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
With the dawn of smarter, more adaptive tooling, robots can now function with greater speed, strength, safety and precision, accomplishing a wide range of tasks, while maximizing ROI. Learn more on how you can enable faster production at lower costs by downloading our free eBook.
How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
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