Robotic machine tending also was known as computer numerical control (CNC) machine tending or autonomous machine tending generally refers to the process of loading and unloading of parts and materials from or into a machine.
Due to the dangerous nature of Machine tending tasks that have been performed by humans for the longest time now, robotic solutions are becoming quite viable as they provide the consistency required in performing these tasks.
Some of the common applications for robotic machine tending include;
- Injection molds
- Punching and
Robotic machine tending is usually more complex than robotic material handling.
This is because, in the robotic machine tending, the robotic system usually communicates with the computer numerical control (CNC) machine in one way or another. Also, the robotic system usually performs a set of different functions in a single application.
It is worth noting that specific processes completed by a robotic system in each application vary greatly.
However, the common function of a robotic machine tending is the loading and offloading of materials and parts.
Benefits of Robotic Machine Tending
Faster Tool Changes
Most of these robots have a variety of tool changing station mounting options which often include top mounting.
Some of these robots also serve as high-efficiency tool changers. Their capability of working with large varieties of tools enables them to handle any given number of tools regardless of their weight.
The ability of Robots to inject molds in applications such as screw cutting, labeling, dating, part removal, adding inserts and lasering usually leads to an increase in throughput across different types of tasks.
This ability also reduces the risk of damage to materials and parts.
Most robots are usually equipped and compacted with at least six axes. This makes the robots ideal for automated machine tending especially for small standalone cells.
Additionally, these robots usually can control not only the entire cell but also additional peripheral axes as well.
This is usually made possible by their powerful controllers.
Loads Objects Quickly
The automated machine tending technology has dramatically increased the speed of loading random objects. The loading speed can sometimes boast uptimes of almost 99.97%.
The speed up processes usually involve vision-based bin picking solutions which make it possible for the robots to identify, select and load objects from a container.
Compared to manual loading and offloading, robotic machine tending offers improved uptime.
This is because, unlike humans who generally get weary and requires constant rest, the only time that the robot stops functioning is when it is undergoing regular maintenance.
This means that the machine being tended is not limited by manual labor hence gains uptime which eventually leads to increased productivity by boosting throughput.
Also, robotic machine tending systems are usually more accurate despite performing repetitive tasks as compared to manual loading and unloading.
The reason why this accuracy is important is that;
- It increases the quality of parts being produced
- It reduces the amount of error and mistakes in the machining process
- It maximizes throughput
- It minimizes wasted materials and time.
Robots equipped with options for intelligent vision can make a vast array of machine tending applications possible.
These intelligent vision options often include;
- 2D vision for part location
- The 3D vision part detection, orientation and positioning
- Visual line tracking for conveyors and
- Area sensors for bin picking.
Every supplier needs to have solutions for every conceivable production scenario.
With the technological advancements that we are witnessing with each waking day, automated machine tending will be the only viable option for any company seeking to increase its productivity.
Just think of how much work you can get done by making use of the robotic machine tending solutions as compared to manual machine tending.
Based on your answer, it is evident that the future of automated machines in our workplaces is here.