What do you think about chaperoning a robot? Neat idea, isn’t it? That is basically what machine tending alludes to. You will be overseeing the machine as it works as well as feeding it parts to work on.
Some of the lingo used to define machine includes the following:
- Autonomous machine tending
- Robotic machine tending
- CNC machine tending
Unfortunately, the euphoria of manual machine tending does not last. The process of feeding the machine parts gets dreary after a while and you want something more challenging. Boredom comes with distractions and the need to do something different.
This is why robotic machine tending is the best solution for manufacturers. It helps to:
- Enhance productivity
- Save the customer money
- Reduce part cycle time
Industrial robots are excellent for machine tending applications. They can be programmed to tend every type of machine. Machine robots are a huge relief to your workers because they ensure safety from:
- Menial and repetitive tasks
- Tedious and dangerous jobs
Hence, they help to enhance safety in the workplace. In addition, applications performed by robots are precise and error-free unlike those performed manually.
Manual Machine Tending Applications
In essence, machine tending refers to the loading and unloading of materials or parts on a machine. Many of these applications are still performed by humans in spite of the advances made by robotics.
These tasks are repetitive and humans find them boring. The employee turnover is quite high and finding replacement can be very frustrating. This is where robots come in to rescue many manufacturing plants. They are a permanent solution to workforce scarcity.
How Does A Machine Tending Robot Operate?
- The robot loads a part or raw material onto a machine
- The machine implements its program
- The robot unloads the part once the machine is done working on it
- The robot loads the next part or raw material
This is a process that can be repeated throughout the day. As long as parts are loaded and unloaded, it can go on for as long as it takes. This ensures that production is continuous. Also, the precision with which robots operate ensures that all finished products are uniform in quality.
If you have orders that have to be filled on a deadline, robots are of great help. They can work throughout the night and in the morning you have your products ready for other processes.
Machine Tending for the Small Business
Many business people assume that robots are only applicable to big companies. However, SMEs also face workforce challenges and could benefit from automation. A single robot in a small manufacturing plant could make a huge difference.
There is also the assumption that since volume production is low, small firms need not invest in robots. However, there are robots today that are flexible and very easy to program. Small companies can have robots such as these to perform tending operations.
They could invest in robots with flexible robotic arms and grippers to work on parts of various shapes and sizes. Additionally, robots are able to reprogram the machine quite fast. This would give the human work adequate time to examine the quality of the finished products.
Machine Tending Cells
Options include the following:
- The Do it Yourself kit
With an end effector and a cobot, you can develop your own cell and personalize it. This one is the most cost-effective option and you can execute the programming via hand guiding. It is easy to set up and the ROI is fast too.
Pre-Engineered Machine Tending
A system such as this one is available for both industrial and collaborative robots. However, it is a tad expensive due to the many accessories and time required to integrate.
The All-Inclusive Kit
This one calls for yet more funds but it is capable of handling a host of applications in your plant. It is best suited for an industrial robot and comes with a few requirements:
- Safety guarding
- A specific place for it (enough to hold the robot and its programmers)
SMEs can also invest in machine tending robots for better performance. Once you identify what your manufacturing plant needs, you can adopt machine tending systems that will be a perfect fit.