Robotic machine tending solution exists for every type of application imaginable. Ideally, every company’s goal for taking on robotic machine tending is to reduce labor costs and increase machine utilization. For those new to robotic machine tending, their main concern includes how it affects maintenance, speed, ease of changeovers and flexibility. Below are some of the benefits of robotic machine tending.
Quality and safety
Tasks involving machine tending require feeding parts or materials to a machine as well as inspecting the process. These types of jobs often tend to be repetitive and sometimes dirty and dangerous for the people doing them. Robotic machine tending as well as the incorporation of robotic vision or mechanical inspection can greatly relieve quality issues as well as improve safety. With the use of this technology, your company can easily attain almost 100% inspection and zero safety related events.
A more solid solution
In most production facilities, space is already at a premium. For this reason, roboticists are creating machine tending robots that have smaller footprints. In addition to this, automated machine tending systems are designed with dust and water protection features. Their cables are routed through the wrist to keep them out of harm’s way. Other manufacturers design small models that are used directly into the machine tending tool.
Flexibility and speed
When compared to a human operator, robotic part exchange is more precise and happens at a faster rate thus leading to an increase in machine utilization. Additionally, robots with 6-axis servo-controlled systems can be equipped with dual or single position end of arm tool which makes loading and unloading parts even easier.
Delivering raw materials or parts to the robot for loading or unloading can be provided on a conveyor which is fitted with part handling fixtures. Similarly, a turntable can be loaded manually from one side and then the robotic machine automatically picks it up from the other side. By using robots on the factory floor, machine tending will no longer wait for a human operator to be present to load it thus ensuring continued production.
Robots used in machine tending can also be designed with operator interface screens on a separate Human/Machine Interface (HMI) screen or their teach pendant. This will help to simplify operation between the machine and robot thus allowing them to keep working together seamlessly and smoothly.
Robot utilization is driven by machine cycle times. It is possible for a robot to service more than one machine in a multiple machine tending arrangement. There are various simulations showing how many robots are needed to service several machines in a specific production area.
There are several standalone solutions that make robotic machine tending to be a very practical choice for SMEs. They are easier to use and also less expensive thus providing considerable benefits even to small and medium-sized production runs. They especially come in handy where dangerous, tedious and dirty tasks are involved. More so, when the nature of the job makes it hard to find and retain manual operators. Additionally, once machine tending programs have been created, they can be called up anytime new orders arrive.
Maintenance and changeover benefits
Robotic controls that are thoughtfully designed not only permit a simple switch from one part to another once they are programmed but also allow for the simple addition of new parts. In fact, some robots are designed to allow technicians to edit in the background while they are still running. Similarly, technicians can edit elements of the runtime program live. All these allow minimum downtime when introducing a new part to the machine tending equipment.
With advanced robotic technology, there is a possibility of storing hundreds of different part configuration in a robot controller. With a well-designed system, it is easier to add parts whenever you need to without have to contact a robot integrator. It also doesn’t require additional robot level programming.