Robotic Machine Tending Solution
PCC’s Robotic Machine Tending (RMT) solution is a collaborative robotics based automation system for loading and unloading material in production machines such as lathes, mills, press brakes, or even post processing applications like deburring, grinding, polishing, or automatic part inspection.
Cobots and Machine Tending: Is it time to automate?
Shop owners today are challenged with the constant pressure to lower production costs while at the same time attract and sustain employees from a shrinking and more costly labor force. Refocusing employees on higher value activities such as quality inspection, programing and setup while automating the menial tasks such as loading and unloading will be critical to maintain and grow profits.
The good news is that a fully-integrated, cost effective, turnkey system is available utilizing collaborative robots and a variety of accessories depending on each unique application.
What is a Cobot (Collaborative Robot) vs. a traditional Industrial Robot?
Robots have been used in manufacturing for many years to not necessarily replace human labor but to perform tasks that are too difficult, too fast or too dangerous to be accomplished with a human. In contrast, Cobots were designed to perform menial and repetitive tasks in collaboration with the human worker. The 1st Collaborative Robot was sold around 10 years ago by the market leader, Universal Robots. Today this market is experiencing 50% annual growth and forecasted to hit $3B in global revenue in as early as 2020.
What are the benefits of a Cobot enabled Robotic Machine Tending (RMT) solution?
- Return on Investment: The PCC RMT solution is cost effective with an ROI of 1 year being typical. Depending on size and the level of integration a turn-key out the door system ranges from $50K to $90K.
- Flexibility: Unlike traditional industrial robot based solutions, the RMT is extremely flexible and can be repurposed quickly. The whole system can be moved to another machining center on a pallet jack and within hours be up and running a new job.
- Programming: The deliverable of the turn-key system is training on the programing tool for the system. The solution has been designed so that no future programing will be required from PCC in order to create or modify programs.
- Safety: Cobots are designed to work in close proximity with human counterparts. Because the speed and force is limited by design along with built in safety features, the level of safety gating can be reduced or all together eliminated.
- Implementation: Although there are many variables that could impact the turn-key delivery of an RMT solution, we are talking days, not months, to have a system up and running providing an even quicker ROI.
What is the anatomy of a RMT system?
1. The Machine Base, called the ProFeeder by Easy Robotics, is a highly sturdy but portable structure designed to mount a robot arm, controller, and teach pendant and includes a cart system for loading raw material to be fed to the main application.
2. The Collaborative Robot, manufactured by Universal-Robots, comes in three sizes depending on payload and reach requirements. UR robots are extremely easy to program yet very powerful to handle a large variety of loading and unloading applications. The convenient pallet subprogram makes setting up a job quick and repeatable.
3. The Gripper, manufactured by OnRobot (and others), provides the critical handling of raw material and finished parts. Some applications may benefit from a dual gripper arrangement due to changing part geometry after machining, or to improve overall cycle times. Grippers are available in wide variety of styles and technologies depending on the part handling requirements and proper selection is vitally important to insure project success.
4. The Automatic Door Controller, SIDOOR manufactured by Siemens, provides an incredibly easy after-market solution for automatically controlling the door on a machining center. This unit features one-button learning mode and built-in safety making it the perfect solution for automating legacy CNC machines.
5. The Parts Nest is where the raw material is staged in a grid pattern for processing. This nest will generally be made from machined Jig Plate or plastic. The nest can be reused for future repeated jobs. Because of the accuracy and repeatability of the Universal-Robots arm, machine vision is typically not necessary for most applications. Additionally, the mobile cart system from EasyRobotics accurately secures the Jig Plate in place and provides off line staging of raw material. Once loaded in the ProFeeder, powerful pneumatic pins safely lock the cart in place for highly repeatable picking by the robot arm.
What should I do next?
Attend an event!
Join PCC for our free event ‘Beer, Brats and Cobots’ and discover what all the Cobot excitement is about and the impact they can have on your business. Stay tuned for our next scheduled event.