Cobot Industries - Machine Tending
Welcome to the first installation of our Cobot Industries series! In the manufacturing industry, machine tending is a crucial part of day-to-day processes. A basic definition of machine tending would be:
The process of overseeing a machine while it performs a job, as well as the operation of feeding parts in and out.
Often, especially when it comes to machine tending with cobots, the machine being tended to is a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine. A CNC machine allows for the automation of processing a piece of material to meet specifications by following a coded programmed instruction. The key point here is that the process is automated, meaning there is no need for a manual operator directly controlling the machining operation.
Cobots fit into this process, as where automation has already been achieved within the CNC machining process, the existence of cobots presents yet another way to free up workers' time and further automate the process.
But what is the difference between using an industrial robot and a cobot?
Many manufacturers use industrial robots in these machine tending operations, as they are reliable and have been for years. The use of both traditional industrial robots and collaborative robots helps achieve a higher level of efficiency within machining applications, but there are many differences between the two. You can read about this here: Cobots VS Industrial Robots.
The main difference is the ability for humans to work alongside cobots and be in close proximity to them, whereas with industrial robots, cages or safety zones are in place that cannot be entered. This capability and flexibility in the workplace makes cobots even more desirable.
What kind of machine tending applications can cobots be used for?
Robotic machine tending is used for loading and unloading parts during the following applications, including but not limited to:
· Welding and grinding
· Injection moulding
· Milling and turning
· Compression moulding
· Punching, forging, trimming
Often with 6 axes for freedom of movement, cobots can rotate, bend, and move in an arc. This impressive manoeuvrability means these 6-axis cobots can grip objects at different angles and can rotate or tilt parts, making them ideal for more sophisticated pick-and-place applications.
A company called Rousant Sherwood Manufacturing, a family-owned company based at Henley-on-Thames, adopted seven cobots for their specialist subcontract manufacture of complex machined components. RSM’s seven Universal Robots are today busy tending the company’s 14 CNC machine tools, with robots frequently relocated to different machines in line with customer/contract demands. One of the UR10 robots is currently serving a Nakamura-Tome Super NTJX multi-tasking turn-mill centre. The robot loads square billets of aluminium into the machine, where they are turned into aerospace components in a 40-minute cycle. The machine and robot are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Like many companies that turn to cobots to automate their machine tending processes, RSM benefits greatly from their presence within their daily operations.
The New Machine Tending Solution from Robotiq
As the third release in the Robotiq range of
specific application solutions, the new Machine Tending Solution delivers peace of mind that your machines will always be running through accessible automation.
With external modules managing communication with the machine interface, deployment of the solution is quick and easy. Increasing production hours and reducing downtime, Robotiq's new Machine Tending Solution earns a quick ROI and is an easy-to-use solution that does the work for you. High-mix, low-volume automation is finally viable with the accelerated deployment and changeover made possible by the Machine Tending Copilot.