Making the Case for CNC Robotics in Machine Shop Automation

Making the Case for CNC Robotics in Machine Shop Automation

Making the Case for CNC Robotics in Machine Shop Automation

High-volume and fast production machine shops around the country are using technology like CNC robotics to improve productivity and efficiency, especially during turbulent economic times.

Companies have been experiencing limited labor markets for some time and it’s increasingly difficult to fill skilled manufacturing positions. Shops that supply machined parts for oil and gas drilling systems often require highly skilled machining operators, and these employees are in high demand and short supply. Even for those shops that are adequately staffed, production managers look to maximize labor capacity and get the most out of staffed hours. Honestly, some machining work just takes too much time.

If you would like assistance on ways to get your machine shop running at peak performance, reach out to your local M&M Sales & Equipment rep or call 800-592-4516.

On the other hand, even if you find talent, hiring additional skilled labor is expensive. After experiencing the devastating blows brought on by COVID-19, many shops can’t afford to bring on more people. The solution? Many are investing in machine shop automation to redeploy employees to tasks of higher value and using robotics to handle more mundane shop processes and even intricate detail work. Robotic automation can also help machine shops attract fresh talent, as CNC robots can make lighter work out of the toughest and dirtiest tasks. The upside is that industrial robots pay for themselves relatively quickly.

If you’re concerned that automation will phase out human employees, don’t fret. Highly skilled workers are still vital to shop performance and quality assurance.

How to Make CNC Robotics Work for Your Shop

Below are three examples of the ways machine shops are using automation and industrial robots to make their shops run safer and leaner, while increasing profitability.

Handling Heavy Parts

Some parts are heavy, cumbersome or awkward for handling by humans, leading to increased worker injury and costly parts damage. CNC machine handling robots can be configured with various mounting options to handle heavy payloads and reduce risks to employee safety. They can also improve employee ergonomics.

Machine Tending Applications

There is increased risk any time a worker comes in contact with pinch points which are present when loading raw materials or when unloading finished parts from a machine. Worker safety can be improved with CNC machine tending robots because they are designed specifically to tend to multiple machine tasks. In addition to safety improvements, uptime can be improved compared to manual loading and unloading times. Robotic machine tending can be utilized for:

  • Bin Picking
  • Grinding
  • Milling
  • Turning
  • Polishing
  • Welding
  • Deburring
  • Parts Cleaning

Automatic Inspections

CNC robotics now come with vision systems and scanning sensors to access part features. That capability allows them to record geometric and surface data ensuring quality and part accuracy. Automatic inspections not only improve quality assurance, they also detect abnormalities early on — saving on scrap, time and unnecessary machine wear and tear.

Related: How Machine Shops in Texas Use Innovation to Adapt Operations in the Time of COVID-19

Machine shops looking to get started with CNC machine robotics can start with a simple robot, one that is lightweight and portable. Be sure to select an automation solution that can be customized to your specific application. Choose robotics carefully and select a system that can be configured to each application. If production needs slow in one department, it can be moved to a new location and re-programmed to adapt to a new function.

Employing Safety with Robotic CNC Solutions

Worker safety is always the first priority when working with new equipment or tools. CNC robotic equipment isn’t intuitive to the location of humans (yet), and safety measures must be taken into account to protect against accidental injury. Protective cages, safety fencing and guards are reliable ways to increase operator and bystander safety without slowing down your machine’s production.

M&M Sales & Equipment is here to help your business succeed with advice and suggestions on how you can improve operations, enhance worker satisfaction and increase your profitability. From cutting tools, abrasives and cutting fluid to safety and MRO supplies, we are your full-line distributor. If you have questions on how M&M Sales & Equipment can help you, please call one of our four Texas locations.

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