Typically, loading a machine center (CNC) has been performed by an operator as a manual process. This task can be inefficient and possibly dangerous if heavy loads are involved. The efficiency of the CNC is dependent on the operator to initiate machine start. Many factors play into how frequently the machine cycles. Many uncontrolled variables influence this frequency. Robotic systems are available to streamline the complete process.
Global competition requires manufacturers to utilize technology to improve machine yield and optimize machine run times. If the labour force is not available or operators are not willing to work shifts, many shops are forced to close the doors which leave valuable hours of each day underutilized. Robotic machine tending systems can be tailored to operate during “lights out,” increasing machine yield and decreasing operator dependency.
With the steady decline of skilled trades in Canada, manufacturers must utilize turnkey technology that can be programmed to perform repeatable load/unload, quality control and cycle time management. Introducing robot technology can bridge the gap lost to working hours, dangerous environments and improved cycle times. Automation component technology is available for multi-task operations that are typically done by skilled labour.
When operators interact with robots during the manufacturing process, the robots are able to sense an operator’s presence thru haptic feedback or environmental (envelope) monitoring. Robots can be slowed to prevent operator injury without requiring time-wasting cycle restart. In cases where delicate parts (pharma) or high-value components (aerospace) are monitored during loading and nesting, human intervention during robot/gripper motion of parts enables these parts to be safely positioned and handled, reducing the potential for damage and process error.