Industrial robot controller

Industrial robot controller article illustration


Industrial robot controllers operate and monitor industrial robots used in automation processes to perform various manufacturing activities such as lifting, welding and assembling. They ensure that the machines are working correctly and in sync with other industrial robots, maintain and repair defective parts, assess risks and perform tests.

The main duties of an industrial robot controller include, but are not limited to;

  • Assembling and disassembling robots or other automated equipment such as computer numerical control (CNC) machines or automated welding equipment
  • Programming the motion of robots to perform specific tasks, using computer aided design (CAD) software
  • Operating robotic arms to perform tasks such as welding, painting, assembly, material handling, packaging, or machine tending
  • Installing, repairing, troubleshooting, and maintaining robotic equipment such as robotics, motion control devices, vision systems, and various electromechanical components
  • Installing, repairing, troubleshooting, and maintaining computer hardware, software, and network systems
  • Conducting maintenance on the robots, including replacing worn out parts and cleaning grease buildup from gears and motors
  • Coordinating operations with other departments such as shipping and receiving, human resources, accounting, and purchasing
  • Performing safety checks on new equipment to ensure compliance with safety standards
  • Monitoring robots to ensure they are working properly and responding to problems as they arise

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to industrial robot controller:

industrial robot operative
delta robot controller
robotic equipment operative
industrial robotics controller
robotic equipment controller
robotic welder programmer
industrial robot operator
robot welder programmer
industrial robot test technician
scara robot controller
industrial robot setter
industrial robot technician
robotic equipment operator

Working conditions

Industrial robot controllers typically work in factories or other industrial settings. They may be required to work in shifts, which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays. The work can be physically demanding, and operators may be required to lift and move heavy objects. They may also be exposed to noise and fumes from the machinery.

Although most industrial robot controllers work full time, some may work part time.

Minimum qualifications

Entry-level industrial robot controllers are typically required to have a high school diploma or equivalent and take courses in computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM). Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in engineering, manufacturing or robotics.

Most companies will provide on-the-job training for new industrial robot controllers. This training will typically last for a few weeks and will teach them how to use the specific equipment and software.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Industrial robot controller is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Industrial robot controller career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to industrial robot controller.

automation engineering technician
automated assembly line operator
robotics engineering technician
mechatronics engineering technician
pulp control operator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of industrial robot controller. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of industrial robot controller with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

automation engineer
calculation engineer
aviation surveillance and code coordination manager
maintenance and repair engineer
robotics engineer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of industrial robot controller.

  • Production processes: Materials and techniques required in the production and distribution processes.
  • Robotic components: The components that can be found in robotic systems, such as microprocessors, electronics, sensors, circuit boards, encoders, servomotors, controllers, pneumatics or hydraulics.
  • Automation technology: Set of technologies that make a process, system, or apparatus operate automatically through the use of control systems.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of industrial robot controller.

  • Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear: Wear relevant and necessary protective gear, such as protective goggles or other eye protection, hard hats, safety gloves.
  • Maintain robotic equipment: Diagnose and detect malfunctions in robotic components and systems and remove, replace, or repair these components when necessary. Execute preventative equipment maintenance tasks, such as storing robotic components in clean, dust-free, and non-humid spaces.
  • Monitor automated machines: Continuously check up on the automated machine’s set-up and execution or make regular control rounds. If necessary, record and interpret data on the operating conditions of installations and equipment in order to identify abnormalities.
  • Perform machine maintenance: Perform regular maintenance, possibly including corrections and alterations, on a machine or machine tool to ensure it remains in a proper productive state.
  • Set up machine controls: Set up or adjust machine controls to regulate conditions such as material flow, temperature, or pressure.
  • Set up the controller of a machine: Set up and give commands to a machine by dispatching the appropriate data and input into the (computer) controller corresponding with the desired processed product.
  • Adjust manufacturing equipment: Regulate and monitor the manufacturing equipment settings and process parameters, such as its temperature and power level. Review the manufacturing process and equipment and suggest improvements.
  • Maintain control systems for automated equipment: Check, maintain and repair electrical and electronic elements. Check and update software of automated equipment.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of industrial robot controller. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • CAM software: Different tools for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to control machinery and machine tools in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation as part of the manufacturing processes of workpieces.
  • CADD software: The computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) is the use of computer technology for design and design documentation. CAD software replaces manual drafting with an automated process.
  • Sensors: Sensors are transducers that can detect or sense characteristics in their environment. They detect changes in the apparatus or environment and provide a corresponding optical or electrical signal. Sensors are commonly divided in six classes: mechanical, electronic, thermal, magnetic, electrochemical, and optical sensors.
  • Cost management: The process of planning, monitoring and adjusting the expenses and revenues of a business in order to achieve cost efficiency and capability.
  • CAE software: The software to perform computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis tasks such as Finite Element Analysis and Computional Fluid Dynamics.
  • CAD software: The computer-aided design (CAD) software for creating, modifying, analysing or optimising a design.
  • Robotics: The branch of engineering that involves the design, operation, manufacture, and application of robots. Robotics is part of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science and overlaps with mechatronics and automation engineering.
  • Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of industrial robot controller. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Inspect quality of products: Use various techniques to ensure the product quality is respecting the quality standards and specifications. Oversee defects, packaging and sendbacks of products to different production departments.
  • Supply machine with appropriate tools: Supply the machine with the necessary tools and items for a particular production purpose.
  • Record test data: Record data which has been identified specifically during preceding tests in order to verify that outputs of the test produce specific results or to review the reaction of the subject under exceptional or unusual input.
  • Optimise financial performance: Direct and coordinate the organisation’s financial operations and budget activities, in order to optimise financial performance.
  • Assemble sensors: Mount chips on a sensor substrate and attach them using soldering or wafer bumping techniques.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Optimise production: Analyse and identify the strengths and weaknesses of solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems; formulate and plan alternatives.
  • Assemble robots: Assemble robotic machines, devices, and components according to engineering drawings. Program and install the necessary components of robotic systems, such as robot controllers, conveyors, and end-of-arm tools.
  • Install software: Install machine-readable instructions, such as computer programs, in order to direct the computer’s processor to perform a certain set of actions.
  • Replace machines: Evaluate when to invest in replacing machines or machine tools and take the necessary actions.
  • Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.
  • Set up automotive robot: Set up and programme an automotive robot working on machine processes and substituting or collaboratively supporting human labour, such as the six-axis automotive robot.

ISCO group and title

3139 – Process control technicians not elsewhere classified

  1. Industrial robot controller – ESCO
  2. Robot Operator Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: By Mirko Tobias Schäfer –, CC BY 2.0
Last updated on January 25, 2023