Material handling and removal are some of the most common applications in the manufacturing industry. The applications include drilling, milling, grinding, and deburring, among several others. They are demanding and challenging, especially for any industry using manual labor or manually operated machines.
Material handling and removal require consistency and precision that humans cannot deliver effectively. Despite the hard economic times and the manufacturing trauma facing many industries today, robotic automation such as a milling machine robot for metal machining and other applications is on the rise.
Milling machine robots are a new entry into the market as they made their first entry after 2009. They use highly powerful sensors to deliver a wide range of applications with more productivity gains, flexibility, and less wastage. Even with their rising popularity, using machining robots also comes with its challenges.
Robotic Automation Challenges
Some people assume that nothing can hold robotic automation back because of the changes and improvements they bring to different industries worldwide. Many corporations implement the automated robotic systems because they want to compete effectively with other organizations. However, like many other machine implementations, robotic automation also comes with several challenges.
- Pre- and Post-Operations
One of the largest pre robotic automation implementation challenges includes deburring, inspection, and manual gagging, among several others. Post-implementation challenges include data recording, processing, and transferring to the machine. Robot tending is another post operation challenge that many organizations face because they have to learn how to automate the processes before then.
Part presentation is another challenging factor because it requires channeling the parts presented mostly in bulk. Consistent robotic handling requires manual staging. Some companies also use automatic feeding methods for the process, which is faster.
Even a robot needs enough space to load and unload parts used in manufacturing applications in machine handling and removal. Creating space can be challenging because you have to ensure that it is operational and safe for the machines and humans at the workstation.
Machine access is vital for tool changes and setup. If you need to access the automated process, you first have to stop the robot system. It becomes a problem if a robot is tending to more than one machine because all the machines have to stop. Furthermore, the number of times it takes to change tools also limits robotic automation viability.
Implementing robotic automation does not come cheap. Cost is especially a challenge for start-ups and small businesses. However, the good thing is that robotic automation cuts on many other costs to improve production quality and speeds up the process, leading to a faster recovery of the investment expense.
One of the most important factors in machine handling is the loading time. It is critical to maintaining short-cycle operations in smaller parts. Sometimes it becomes challenging to justify automation in piece-rate or machine usage reduction in current products.
During the machining process, the zone needs to be clear of stringers and chips. The process requires automation for fuss-free loading and unloading, but it is one of the most challenging issues for robotic automation implementation.
Wrapping it up
Some of the material removal and handling applications are more complex than others are. Deburring and trimming, for example, require a milling machine robot with vision and force control to handle size variability and to position material that needs removal effectively.
Fortunately, the robotic arms have integrated features that provide them with highly skilled operations with flexibility, better consistency, and enough safety. They also help overcome the challenges that many industries go through, looking for skills needed in machining processes. Finding the right skills takes time.
The business can hire skilled labor from outside the organization or train their own to take up the positions. Whichever way, both situations cost the company money, which is another thing that robotic automation overcomes.