If you’re like most machinists, you are always looking for ways to increase the capacity of your CNC machines and reduce costly downtime.

You’re running a busy machine shop and you can’t afford having machines sit idle for large portions of the working day. Even a short machine stoppage can lead to significant losses in production, and thus income.

How can you reduce the downtime?

One way could be to hire lots of new machinists. But it’s very hard to find qualified machinists right now. Is there another solution?

We find machine shop owners often overlook robotic machine tending as a way to improve their operations. They worry they don’t have the right experience or knowledge to deploy robots, so they are hesitant to adopt the technology.

The truth is, an effective robotic machine tending solution can have a dramatic impact on your operations. And with our new Machine Tending Solution, it’s easier than ever to keep your machine shop running smoothly and efficiently.

Why machine tending is the perfect task to automate

As a machine shop owner or operator, you should count everything. Even saving 1 second on a single CNC program can save you $1000 a year when working a double shift.

Many factors affect the cost to machine a mechanical part, including size, material, specific machining operations, and design.

But an enormous factor is person-hours.

Machine tending is the process of loading and unloading parts from a CNC machine. When performed manually, it can add a lot of extra time and work to your machining processes. Most people view it as a low-value activity, which it is. However, when you don’t give it enough focus, manual machine tending can add significant extra time to your process.

Robotic machine tending is one way to shave time off your machining operations. Here, a robot loads and unloads parts from the CNC machines, giving your workers extra time to complete more value-added tasks. It can also help reduce operator fatigue and improve safety.

Welcome the Robotiq Machine Tending Solution

We just launched a new Machine Tending Solution at the Automate 2022 trade fair. This is the latest in our line of off-the-shelf robotic application solutions, which help you get up and running quickly with robotic automation.

The Robotiq Machine Tending Solution

The Machine Tending Solution is designed to work with UR robots and is very flexible in the machining operations it supports. You can easily configure it to work with a variety of CNC machines, robotic accessories, sensors, and setups.

There are 3 versions of the solution to support different types of machine tending:

  1. Single gripper — This version of the solution comes with a single Hand-E gripper, making it a cost-effective solution and suitable for operations where time isn’t critical.

  2. Dual gripper — The Machine Tending Solution also comes in a dual-gripper version. A great advantage of using a dual gripper is that it reduces the cycle time. The robot can pick up the completed part from the CNC machine and place the next part with a single movement of the arm. It is often a no-brainer to go with this option because of the quick ROI.

  3. Copilot setup — With this version, you can customize the Machine Tending Solution for your own specific setup. This is suitable if you will need a custom gripper.

How easy is it to program the Machine Tending Solution?

One concern that machinists often have is that they don’t have the programming expertise to create robot programs.

If this is a concern for you, don’t worry. The solution makes it extremely easy to program your machine tending program.

Machinists programming the machine tending solution

The Machine Tending Solution’s functionality centers on our URCap for UR robots: the Machine Tending Copilot. Like our previous “Copilot” software solutions, this provides all the functionality that you will need to deploy a machine tending robot.

Machine Tending Copilot offers functionality for the tasks of:

  • Part presentation

  • Robot sequence generation

  • Part loading and unloading

  • Insertions into chucks and vises

  • Cleaning

  • Door management

  • Button and pedal presser management

These functionalities come pre-deployed in the robotic hardware and work out-the-box. The Machine Tending Solution comes with the hardware and software that you need to automate your machining processes.

What are the benefits of the Machine Tending Solution?

There are various benefits to using the Machine Tending Solution instead of the manual machine tending that you are probably using right now.

Some significant benefits of using the solution are:

  • Increase your machining capacity — When you remove the human operator from your machining operations, you also significantly reduce the gaps between the machining of each part. This increases the capacity of your CNC machine.

  • Quick deployment — Not all robotic machine tending solutions are as easy to deploy as ours. Compared to a standard installation, the Robotiq Machine Tending Solution can save you a whopping 75% of the installation time!

  • Reduce changeover programming times — Whenever you change to a brand new product line, you need to update your robot program. With the Robotiq solution, you can save up to 70% of the programming time compared to other robotic solutions.

  • Earn a quick return on investment — Considering that every second saved in a machining operation can save you $1000 a year, it’s easy to see how the Robotiq Machine Tending Solution will pay for itself quickly. Our users can often see a payback period of less than 6 months.

How to find out if it’s the right solution for you

How can you find out if the Robotiq Machine Tending Solution is right for you?

A great place to start is to look on our case study page where you can see how other companies like yours have implemented robotic machine tending. You can also use our ROI calculator to see how much you could save by automating your machining operations.

If you are running a machine shop, it’s likely that a machine tending robot is a good idea for you. The Machine Tending Solution is an easy and quick way to reduce downtime and keep your machine shop running smoothly.

Meet the Machine Tending Solution

What questions do you have about the Machine Tending Solution? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or the DoF professional robotics community.

Read more about this on: Workfloor: Robotics News for the Factory