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Robots Enable New Automation

acs_snake.jpgA component manufacturer purchased a new CNC machine tool for processing a variety of parts. In order to maximize their return on investment they decided to implement a robotic automation solution from Yaskawa Motoman.

Challenges

  • Floorspace is very limited; the entire automation system must fit within a 21 sq ft area
  • Ability to run unattended in order to increase productivity
  • Flexible, mobile robot system that can dock with various machine tools

Solution

A highly flexible, integrated machine tending system was designed, including:

  • Motoman IA20 7-axis robot
    • The IA20 robot features an extremely small footprint, outstanding flexibility and large working envelope.
    • With seven axes, a footprint of only 280 x 404 mm and a minimum height of only 549 mm (to top of joint two), the IA20 can "squat" down as well as get into positions that are not possible with a traditional six-axis robot. This robot flexibility is very similar to the human arm.
    • The 20-kg payload capacity of the IA20 robot is ideal for this customer's application. It is also available in 5-, 10-, 30- and 50-kg payload models.
  • Pallet storage
  • End-of-arm dual gripper
  • Pallet lifter
  • Turnover station/re-grip stand

Process

The cell can hold up to ten pallets. Each pallet holds parts to be processed in a defined position for the robot. A lift raises the pallet to the correct level for the robot. Using a dual gripper, the IA20 robot picks a part and loads it into the machining tool, where it is clamped and machined. The robot then picks up a new raw part, and using the empty gripper removes the semi-finished part. The new raw part is inserted in the machining tool. The semi-finished part is placed on the turnover station, where it is re-gripped and positioned for the final machining. Parts are returned to the pallet when finished.

Results

This solution meets project expectations for both the machining center and the robot. The compact Motoman IA20 robot keeps the complete system size within the footprint requirement. The solution enables the CNC machine to run attended for ten to thirteen hours depending on the part, resulting in increased production. The entire robot cell can be moved with a forklift, allowing the unit to dock with any suitable machine tool.

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