Machine Tending Using Collaborative Robots and the Benefits

Machine tending robotic automation refers to the process of tending machines, mostly a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine. It involves the loading of raw materials into the CNC machine and the unloading of finished parts from the machine.

The difference between robotic machine tending and robotic machine handling is that machine tending is a more demanding process. This makes collaborative robots perfect for these tasks. For robotic machine tending to be possible, the collaborative robot needs to communicate with the CNC machine. It is also required to perform several functions for each application.

Common robotic machine tending applications include:

  • Milling and turning
  • Grinding
  • Compression molds
  • Injection molds
  • Welding
  • Stamping, punching, trimming and forging.

Each robotic tending task comprises of different specific processes in the list above. The common function is the loading and unloading of parts and materials.

The advantages of robotic machine tending

Improved uptime

This is one of the greatest benefits of robotic machine tending compared to manual unloading and loading. This is because collaborative robots can work continuously without the need for breaks. They work at a constant speed and with maximum and uniform accuracy. The only time the robot stops working is when it is undergoing general maintenance. The productivity of a collaborative robot is not limited by manual labor. The gain in uptime leads to improved productivity through the boosting of throughput.

High repeatability and accuracy advantage

Collaborative robots are created with the ability to perform repetitive tasks with accuracy continuously. With these robots, a machine tending plant can produce parts around the clock without compromising quality. They not only increase the output but also reduce the margin of error to almost zero in all processes. This minimizes wastage of resources in the production process.

They are easy to program  

In the past, traditional robots required a lot of expertise ad time to program. This made it impossible for these robots to work effectively in machine tending plants. Today, collaborative roots are easy to program. It takes less than an hour to fully program and automate your machine tending shop with a robot. The best part is that you do not need to hire a programming expert to do the job. Collaborative robots can be programmed by anyone working in the shop by following simple manufacturer guidelines.

Easy installation guidelines

With other robots, the installation process can take days or weeks. It takes less than a few hours to install collaborative robots and automate CNC machines with the robot. The shop can have a collaborative robot working on the same day of purchase. This makes collaborative robots instant ways of improving service delivery in a machine tending shop.

Frees employees for other meaningful tasks

Collaborative robots are made with the ability to work alongside humans. One way this is possible is by working in the same machine ending shop with humans. Because the collaborative robot is left to undertake repetitive, tedious, dirty, unsafe and monotonous tasks, it frees the human workers to attend to more important tasks in the shop. A machine shop also needs maintenance, quality checks, and customer care services which can be handled by human workers.

By supporting employees in machine tending tasks, they can enjoy their work more.

Reduction in cycle times

Even if the process of fabrication is automatic in machine tending, human workers need to feed the CNC machines with parts. Also, human workers pace the production process. By using collaborative robots for machine tending, the shop saves time spent on each cycle. 

By saving even just a few seconds in each cycle, the shop eventually saves a lot of time and increases in production significantly over time. All this is possible because a robotic vending machine can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It is cheaper 

Labor costs in a machine tending shop can significantly be reduced because processes are automated using robots. A machine tending robot is also less expensive than a specialty feeding device.