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This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

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Why Should You Add a Cobot to Your CNC Machine Shop?

Through computerized numerical control (CNC) machining, various industries can utilize machining processes in an automated manner, from laser cutting to welding. While already an advanced methodology, CNC machining can benefit from further technological support, including industrial robotics. Continue reading as we learn more about recent innovations for CNC machining—specifically cobots.

Why Cobots Matter for Machine Shop Automation 

Considering whether to replace standard industrial robots in a CNC facility can be a complex decision. However, noting the advantages of cobots for machine shop automation can help. Many CNC machining facilities use industrial robots to streamline dangerous and mundane tasks so their employees can focus on more complex processes that do not put their safety at risk. This process leads to higher productivity and organization, as well.

The industrial robotics industry is expected to reach a value of over $70 billion by 2028, making it clear that investing in tomorrow’s machines is a powerful way for one to set their facility ahead of the competition. Below are some specific benefits to using cobots for CNC machining.

1. Allow Your Employees to Work on Complex Tasks 

Having machine operators complete tedious work duties can make the workday less interesting and fulfilling, ultimately leading to a drop in productivity levels. To keep operators focused and allow them to use their skills fully, you can use cobots to complete any monotonous, yet necessary, jobs. A few examples of the machine shop automation tasks cobots might complete include:

  • Grinding and polishing materials
  • Rotating tools
  • Directing laser cutters
  • Tracking data
  • Opening and closing machine doors
  • Cutting parts via electrical discharge machining

Ultimately, machine shops feature numerous machines to complete CNC tasks, and cobots can support those machines to ensure a better work experience for everyone involved.

2. Create an Organized Workplace 

Utilizing cobots in your CNC facility can help you build a more streamlined workplace. This kind of work environment can result in better productivity and employee satisfaction. However, you must note that creating a highly predictable environment to increase the efficiency of your warehouse requires certain steps.

For example, you need to lay out the warehouse floor in a way that ensures your cobots work properly; they cannot work if something is out of place. Therefore, you must train your employees to properly set out the equipment the cobots need to operate, and they should never impact the cobots’ paths in any way. Even a folder set down in the way of a cobot will affect its ability to work.

So long as you invest the time and energy to train your employees to properly use the cobots and create the right environment for them, you can create a highly functional workplace.

3. Enjoy Higher Productivity, No Matter Your Machining Needs 

A beneficial aspect of cobots is their flexibility. Depending on your specific machine shop, you might process 10, 100, or 1,000 parts daily. No matter the volume of your machining efforts, you can enjoy the benefits of machine shop automation. Depending on the application, cobots feature numerous maximum payloads. Furthermore, operators can select cobots that have varying reaches so they can extend across more than one machine, achieving their full capabilities.

One of the most notable benefits of cobots is that operators can adjust them in accordance with their machining needs. If an operator needs the cobot to complete a certain task today, but a different one tomorrow, it can likely happen. This feature makes them extremely versatile and suitable for nearly any CNC machining application. Through cobots, you will be able to complete processes consistently and efficiently, keeping up with your machine shop’s deadlines with ease.

4. Experience Automation Without Programming Knowledge 

Fortunately, to integrate a new collaborative robot you don’t always need programming knowledge. For example, Mecademic robots can be controlled using whatever programming method you most prefer, instead of requiring you to learn a new process. This could include controlling them through a computer, programmable logic controller (PLC), the robot itself, or autonomous machines like CNC machines or laser engravers.

The OB7 cobot from Productive Robotics is another “teachable” robot on the market. These teachable robots are the latest generation of cobots. You can physically show the cobot what to do via the control handle. Afterwards it will understand the intended process and repeat it for you as many times as you wish.

This way, you can still enjoy the benefits of machine shop automation without the need to invest in learning programming skills or hiring someone to properly configure your cobots. The training period will require less of a time investment from you and your team, ensuring you can get the cobot to work quickly and keep production levels where they need to be.

5. Continue Production After Work Hours 

During the week, your crew will work alongside your cobots to achieve the most productive workplace possible. Because cobots are a supplement to your team’s human capabilities, collaboration is key to getting the most out of them. However, that collaboration does not have to stop once the workday is over.

When your shop employees head home for the night or the weekend, your cobots can keep the figurative wheels of your facility turning. The cobots will continue to work even when your team is not around, allowing you to meet deadlines and hit quotas with ease. Before your crew clocks out, they can make sure the cobots will complete tasks that set them up for progression when they return to the shop. As a result, you can stay on top of the basic tasks required to keep your machine shop operating, such as picking and placing parts, through the power of cobots.

The Way of the Future for CNC Machining Shops 

No matter the needs or output of your facility, cobots can be efficient, reliable companions to help you meet your machine shop automation goals. If you want a safe, easy-to-use, and flexible set of industrial robots to support the needs of your team and shop, cobots are likely the solution for you. As time goes on, cobots will only become more advanced, making them a central part of the future of CNC machining

Emily Newton
Emily Newton
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine celebrating advances in science and technology.

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