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Loading your CNC Machines with Robots? Beware of Programming Skills!

It’s no longer remarkable to employ robots to take over the repetitive loading tasks around your CNC machine. More and more machining companies automate their production in order to increase their output, profitability and ability to meet market demands.

But what about small to medium sized enterprises? Hiring a full time robot programmer is easier said than done. Are they spiraling towards bankruptcy, while larger companies employ robot after robot? Certainly not.

Recent innovations in robot controls allow almost any company to benefit from automation’s potential. Without any additional specialized staff. What exactly makes these robot systems stand apart from their predecessors from the 80’s? And how can companies – large and small – benefit from hassle free automation?

Where do robots come from?

While Cellro has built quite a bit of knowledge on robots, there is no solid answer to the question where the first robot comes from. Research into the meaning of ‘robot’ uncovered that the word originated from the Czech word ‘robota’, which roughly translated means ‘unpaid or compulsory labour’. While the word appeared in 1921, it took many years before the first industrial robots from suppliers such as ABB and KUKA appeared. But as soon as these first robots set foot on the shop floors, their benefits were quickly embraced. Before long, robotizing large production lines became necessary to stay in front of competitors. This ‘robot boom’ reached its climax midway through the 80’s.

Where do robots stand today?

Each year, many new robotic systems join the workforce of machining companies. In the United States alone, 34.606 robotic systems were welcomed in 2016. This shows that the usage of robots in the machining industry is still growing.

A lot has changed since the robot boom from the 80’s. While robots took over simple identical tasks at first, they are now also capable of automating different tasks and workpieces dynamically. In the blog titled “What Does Industry 4.0 Mean to Machinists?’ you can read more about this evolution towards low volume high mix production.

This evolution is extremely important for small to medium sized machining companies. They can now profit as well from the many benefits automation has to offer. For a more in-depth overview of the development from static to dynamic automation, read this blog.

Today, robots are more relevant than ever before.

Why programming knowledge is a bottleneck

When you decide to automate (part of) your production, your company will benefit in many ways. Your CNC machine will make a larger profit each hour – as well as operate more hours each day, extending into the night. It can even manufacture different small-scale series one after another, autonomously.

However, traditional robots rarely allow small and medium sized enterprises to reap the full potential of automation. The reason is that, while the company cuts back on labor, these hours spill over to programming the robot itself. In addition, you would need to recruit trained specialists who are capable of these advanced programming assignments. Since many small and medium machining companies don’t know today what they will produce tomorrow, this is far from ideal. In fact, we would advise against purchasing an automation system that requires programming knowledge.

Software is the key in making robots easy

There are two requirements for a small to medium sized production company in order to maximally benefit from automation:

  1. The automation requires no programming knowledge.
  2. The robot is capable of handling different kinds of products with minimal adjustment time.

Cellro designs its automation systems to adhere to both requirements.

Firstly, the software functions as a ‘translator’ between the user and the actual robot. While a robot only understands mathematical commands, the software is capable of translating easy and understandable inputs into commands. Through the easy to use touch screen tablet controls, you only have to tell WHAT needs to be done. Then, the software tells the robot HOW it needs to proceed.

In practice, this means you only have to fill in product size, amount, location and clamping method. Additional tasks such as opening and closing the drawers, guiding the pneumatic grippers, opening the CNC Machine door and booting programs is fully automated.

In conclusion, Cellro’s user controls allow you to automatically load your CNC Machines without any programming knowledge. Machining companies of all trades and sizes can fully benefit from automation’s profit increasing potential. Remember the second requirement for profitable automation: a robot should be able to different kinds of products with minimal adjustment time. Want to learn how? Our upcoming blog will go more in-depth on this matter.