The loading and unloading of parts from a production machine is a key component to the majority of industrial manufacturing processes. Often this job can be mundane for workers with the repetitive lifting of parts to and from a machine, not to mention potentially hazardous as some parts can be extremely heavy. The strenuous nature of this job along with the demand to increase productivity has led many manufacturers to the automation of machine loading applications with robotics. Robotic machine loading is commonly used to feed parts to and from CNC machines, injection machines, transfer machines, and press machines.
Machine loading robots can be fitted with end of arm tooling to customize them to the specific requirements in order to complete the loading application. For example, a Yaskawa Motoman MH50 can be fitted with a gripper that will allow it to mimic many of the same movements as a human arm and hand. Only industial robots take it a step further with their longer reach capabilities and ability to lift heavy parts without failure. Some parts may be too heavy for a worker to be able to lift onto a machine, this could lead to worker injury from either the strain of lifting or the potential of dropping the part onto them. Dropping of parts can cause damage to not just the worker, but the part itself. This would result a stoppage in production along with wasted materials, driving up costs. Machine loading robots are designed to handle large and heavy objects without issue.
Human workers are no match for the flexibility provided by machine loading robots. They can easily handle a variety of parts such as those that are heavy, those that need to be fed into a machine in bulk, and those that can be harmful to touch (e.g. too cold/hot, sharp, or radioactive). Robotic machine loading provides further flexibility with the adaptability to be programmed to handle any part variations in size or shape allowing operations to move seamlessly even when new parts are introduced.
With machine loading robots such as the FANUC R-2000ib/125L there is no down time due to worker training. They can be easily programmed to retrieve parts, load them onto production machines, and then remove the completed parts from the machine. They can then repeat this process over and over without any errors. The elimination of errors decreases cycle tim as there are no stoppages to productions in order to correct mistakes. Production time is further decreased by robots because they can work around the clock, unlike human workers.
The increased operation speed along with the high level of repeatability of machine loading robots allows manufacturers to consistently turn out high quality products at much faster rates than ever before. This is why manufacturers see the greatest return on investment with machine loading robots. Adding an ABB IRB 6640-125/3.20 to the assembly line increases operation efficiency by working at a faster rate, saving materials, and ensuring a high level of quality is met with every part. Manufacturers utilizing machine loading robots will retain an edge over their competitors as consumers will want to keep purchasing from them because of their consistent high quality products.