XYZ Machine Tools, in collaboration with automation specialists Adelphi Automation, has developed a robot-based automation cell with vision system suitable for use on machining and turning centres. The new ROBO-TEND system is both modular and mobile, features that help it to bring true robot automation within the reach of traditional sub-contract engineering businesses. The system unveiled to the public by XYZ Machine Tools at MACH 2018 on its stand H18-640.
For many the perception is that Robot automation is only suitable for high volume production environments, such as the automotive sector. The XYZ ROBO-TEND addresses this perception, making automation viable for lower volume production. “The availability of skilled labour is an issue that will not disappear and small to medium sized businesses must automate lower skilled jobs, such as machine loading/unloading, freeing up valuable skilled employees to add value further down the line, we believe ROBO-TEND will open up automation to a much wider audience at a very competitive price,” says Nigel Atherton, Managing Director XYZ Machine Tools.
ROBO-TEND is a flexible modular system that can be adapted quickly to suit changing working situations, with its standard interface making it suitable for a wide range of CNC machines. The system is based around a self-contained KUKA Cybertech KR10 R1420 robot, with a rated total load of 10kg (larger capacity robots are available) managed via the KUKA KRC4 compact robot controller. The robot’s vision system is then used to calibrate it using the orientation plate fixed to the machine.
With the robot in place the components are presented to it in a secondary storage trolley. Components are held in four drawers that feature dual access, one side where the robot picks from and the other where the drawers can be pre-loaded out of the working area. These drawers are configurable to allow a mix of raw material blanks and finished parts in many configurations, for example 8 x 10kg billets or 20 x 3kg billets. With parts up to 120 mm high being accommodated. A series of location/orientation pegs within the drawers ensure that parts are loaded correctly. With the robot and storage unit connected, the guards interlock and create a safe working environment for the robot and the operators outside. There is an access door to the front of ROBO-TEND which has a request to enter. Upon request, the robot moves to a safe park position and becomes inoperative. The door is opened allowing the operator to access the front of the machine for tool change over or maintenance purposes. If greater access is required, ROBO-TEND can be disconnected and wheeled away utilising its modular and mobile features.
The versatility of ROBO-TEND means that it is equally at home servicing a machining centre as it is a turning centre, features such as component ‘flipping’ for second operation work are also available. With a standard vision system ROBO-TEND can identify parts and change grippers and work on multiple batches of components throughout the day with productivity and throughput being enhanced by the 320 kg storage capacity for raw materials.
“ROBO-TEND provides a versatile, user-friendly, modular approach to companies that need to improve productivity, but are struggling to find the personnel to operate machines. Depending on the component ROBO-TEND can be left unattended for a full shift, or even operate 24/7 with the only manual intervention being to restock the raw material in the part storage system if required.”