Process Analysis for Machine Tending
Though there is a lot that robots can do, including complex tasks, they still can’t do everything, and that’s when a robot appears limited to a human. While we still expect that robots will do so many things in the future, realistically, industrial robots will do far much less without the intervention of humans.
This is why it is essential to make sure that you pay close attention when designing an automated machine tending cell. Because of robotic machine tending’s mechanical and electrical limitations, robots can only do a limited amount of decision-making and manipulation. Here are some of the tips to look at when by a collaborative robot for machine tending:
Robot payload is one of the most significant specifications you should look out for when selecting a robot for machine tending. It would be best if you considered the weight of the robot part that will be carried when in operation and the weight of the tools being used.
With machine tending, the collaborative robot will have to carry different types of parts. Hence, you need to determine which parts are going to be heavy and choose the robot accordingly.
This is the robot’s working envelope, and because it is limited, you need to insert all processes into the workspace. Whether you want the robot to use a tool, grasp parts, and open a door, you should make sure that these actions can be accomplished within the coborts working zone.
If a robot carries a high payload that nears the maximum reach, it is most likely to trigger an error message. We recommend considering this in your preliminary design and considering the robot specifications that will help your working zone.
Depending on the parts being handled in the factory, considering gripper selection is essential. It would be best if you always opted for a gripper that can comfortably adapt to all lengths. Make sure that it can also accommodate different parts within those length dimensions without needing additional programming. However, if you are only handling one part, then you can consider a more rigid custom gripper to fit your part.
Grippers tend to have limited dexterity. Considering that robots can only do one thing at a time and in sequence, you should carefully review gripper dexterity. This is especially important if the application needs a human operator to handle various parts at a go and perform operations using both hands. If you redesign the process correctly, robotic machine tending can work perfectly.
With machine tending, most of the operator’s manual process included tightening the vice, part placement, and starting the programs. When the processing is completed, they also have to do all these tasks in reverse order. This is why you should to use mechanical stops and other useful devices to guide the collaborative robot if you want it to place the parts correctly.
It would be best if you also considered using an automated vice to tighten to the vice. Devices like these allow the cobort to place the parts while the vice automatically tightens the parts. The robot can use its end effector to start the application by pushing the start button like a human would.
There is also the option of using PLC to send an order signal to the machine to start the program automatically. Avoid coordinating this functionality with timers because timers don’t adjust over time and can fail to respond to an exception. You also shouldn’t expect the robot integration to have the same flexibility and dexterity as a human worker.
Robots can only do what they are taught. They can make very few logical decisions even when in operation, and even so, the decision is based on specific data. Hence make sure that the communication with the CNC works efficiently.
While machine tending processes can be complex, they can be automated if you choose the device specifications wisely. This will also ensure that there is significant productivity from robotic automation of machine tending.