Machine Tending

Machine Tending - Loading/Unloading with Motoman Robots

Robotic machine tending (CNC Machine Automation) is the process of using a robot system to automatically load and unload a production machine. This can be any kind of machine, most common are CNC machine tools or Injection moulding machines. Some large machine tool manufacturers are offering robotic loading/unloading as ex-works standard options. But in most application cases the layouts, workflows, workpieces and requirements are so individual case by case, that Specialized System Integrators are offering a wide variety of standardized and individual robotic automation.

Machine Tending Robots can relieve qualified CNC Operators and Programmers from loading/unloading operations. Robotic Automation enables Industrial Machines to operate without human intervention, running unmanned over a whole shift or overnight, tirelessly and consistently for 'lights out' production. Other benefits include higher machine utilization, freeing the worker up for multi-machine operation, programming or downstream processes, resulting in higher and more stable overall production rates.

Press Tending and Press Bending Automation have their own application chapters on our Application web pages.

Motoman Robots and Cobots - perfect for Rough Environments

In many machine tending applications, the robot is exposed to chips, dirt and aggressive coolants. IP67-protected versions of our GP Series Robots and HC10DT-IP67 / HC20DT cobots are available, perfectly designed for those rough jobs, being well protected against corrosive and warm steamy environments. Please ask robotics experts around the world - when it comes to tough environment jobs, Motoman Industrial Robots are recommended to be the best choice!

Even in rough Machine Tending environments, machine vision works fine to identify and locate parts on an incoming conveyor.

Selecting the right Motoman Machine Tending Robot

Machine Tending with GP Series Industrial Robots

As machine tool size, design and loading concept may vary a lot, robotic arms will be arranged in many ways. Small robots for small workpieces, like the MotoMini, GP7 or GP8 can be built into the machine housing (exposed to the atmosphere inside the machine), while larger robots are positioned in front of the slider door.

Motoman robot manipulators are perfect for machine tending due to their slim wrist design and narrow footprint. They provide the required repeatability which you need. They support any Multi-Gripper you can find, gripper media supply cabling is guided inside the manipulator arm or through the hollow wrist in most of the cases. High IP65/67 rated versions are available for heavy duty applications when the robot is exposed to cooling liquid, dust or chips - robots can be cleaned easily. 

Top Loader Machine Tending Robots

Top loading is also possible, having the robot sitting on top of the machine. Some Motoman Robots, like the HC10/HC20 or the GP165R Rack mounting manipulators, are specially designed for top loading positions, providing extending reach capability far below the robot's base. Others may be just mounted at an angle, on a socket or wall ceiling-mounted - many Motoman Robot models provide you all those options.

Machine Tending in narrow spaces with SIA / SDA Series Robots

The unique 7-axis SIA Series Robots are perfect to work in very narrow environments. Compared to 6-axis Robots, there is no elbow disturbing the motion capability, and the SIA can work very closely to its body.

Collaborative Machine Tending with Motoman HC-Series Cobots

For lean automation, brown field Machine Tending applications with narrow installation space and moderate cycle time requirements, we recommend to consider our Human-Robot-Collaboration HC10/HC20 series cobots. They allow fenceless operation, and enable you to build smart, flexible and movable loading stations on operational stands including loading tables. Yaskawa HC Series robots are perfect - they provide comfortable reach and payload capability for the double gripper and workpieces up to 14 (!) kg. 

As being "hybrid" cobots, they help you to close the gap between operator safety and speed - just increase cycle time by adding a simple safety device (scanner, light barrier, safety mat) detecting the presence of an operator. The HC Series robot can automatically switch between slow and safe motion when the operator is present, and high speed motion when the operator is absent.

Deployment and Programming costs for Cobots are low, due to easy-to-use hand guiding or smart pendant features. And please, compare our HC10DT or HC20DT with other cobots - you will be impressed by the solidity and quality of these really professional industrial robots.

Multi-Machine Tending with Motoman GP/HC Series Robots

Multi Machine Operation is attractive for machinery parks with long machining time per workpiece - robots with rather long reach are installed in the center of a machine tool arrangement, or moving automatically between the machines being installed on a track, a gantry or even an automatic guided vehicle - all of those components included in the wide Yaskawa portfolio.

CNC and PLC Software Integration of Motoman Robots

Signal interfacing (I/O and Safety) with Machine tools is not rocket science. No need to buy the robot and the CNC Controller from the same brand, better select the best robot model for the job! All YASKAWA Robot controllers provide excellent signal interfacing options, including Ethernet, Profinet, Euroma67 and Varan Fieldbus communication, to handshake perfectly with the CNC machine control. OPC-UA communication and industry-specific information layer schemes are supported, opening the door to status and workflow monitoring and control, and all the benefits of a data driven Industry4.0 Digital Smart factory.

Robotic Automation for CNC Turning, Milling, Drilling, Grinding Machines

Machine tending in the metalworking industry is commonplace. Whether the process is turning, milling, grinding, drilling, CNC controlled or not, a robot can precisely load and unload parts, removing the inconsistencies of a manual process. Robotic machine tending is not limited to metals; it offers benefits to manufacturers also working with polymers, ceramics and composites. Double grippers are broadly used, allowing to load raw parts and unload finished parts within the same motion sequence.

Machine Tending combined with Handling, Washing, Deburring, Testing and Box Handling

Very often, Robots combine Machine tending jobs with other process steps within the production sequence. The robot should be occupied with other tasks than waiting until the CNC machining cycle is finished!

Robotic Automation around Injection Moulding Machines

Injection moulding processes do often have short moulding cycles and require very fast unloading. Compared to classical Cartesian gantries, robots have caught up in terms of speed, and they are much more flexible to optimize part-specific unloading trajectories, e.g. for multi-material injection moulding. Our GP Series robot portfolio is unique when it comes to large reach or rack mount robot models for larger injection moulding machines.

Motoman Robots support market-specific communication interface standards between injection moulding machines and handling devices, like Euromap67 or Varan Bus.

End of Line Conveyor Picking of Moulded Parts

After the Injection Moulding Cycle, freshly moulded parts are running out of the Injection Moulding cell on a conveyor belt. For further transportation, robots can load those parts on the conveyor, and - at the end of the conveyor - sort them into a rack. Industrial robots are fine when sitting inside the cage, Cobots are ideal for installation in the walking corridors between the machines, as they do not require safety fences.

Robot Programming with PLC/IEC Function Blocks (MotoLogix)

For CNC Machine OEMs, our PLC-based programming tool Motologix makes sense. The Robot motion jobs are programmed completely by the PLC Programmer in his Program Development Environment. Motologix provides all the Function blocks required. No need to touch a robot teach pendant or to learn a robot programming language.

Why YASKAWA Motoman?

Years of project collaboration with machine OEMs, robotic integrators and end customers makes Yaskawa Motoman a valuable resource for simple and effective robotic machine tending options. The recent launch of our Collaborative Robots can greatly simplify robot deployment, reduce costs and offer collaborative options for machine operation.