Some people believe that you must have high volumes of a single part and short cycle times to justify robotic automation. They are typically not familiar with electro-discharge machining (EDM), where contrary to industry perceptions, EDM is frequently automated. Why? The concept is quite simple. Even though the cycle can be long, timely servicing is critical to maintain production.
With productivity as the project driver, a customer approached Yaskawa Motoman and an integrator to automate their EDM process. Working together, the best solution was developed to meet the many process challenges.
- Changing job priorities while machines are running.
- Ability to handle a wide variety of parts and tools.
- Provide sufficient capacity for extended overnight and weekend operations.
- Support pallet loading and unloading with the capacity to handle other machining operations in the future.
- High-quality part production.
Yaskawa Motoman Solution
- 6-axis MH50 robot and DX100 controller
- multi-part gripper tool for holding work pieces and tooling
- Pallet magazine for introducing blanks and removing finished parts
- Cleaning station
- Storage rack for extended lights out operation
- Anti-corrosion coating station
- Assembly station
- Safety equipment
The robot takes five blanks at a time and loads them into a cleaning station. On the other side, the robot removes the clean parts and loads them in a carrier pallet at the loading station. These parts can then be loaded into a storage rack for future processing or loaded directly into the EDM when the current cycle is complete. Finished parts are washed after processing and then are moved back into the pallet magazine for operator unloading. On overnight or weekend operations, finished parts can be loaded into the storage rack until the operator pallet is emptied.
The system produces 30 parts per hour. With its buffer capacity of 650 blanks and finished parts in the pallet magazine, the system can run automatically for 21 hours. In addition to saving labor, the customer is now able to operate an unattended night shift which provides up to 21 hours of unattended production per day.