Industry Report

Robotics meet machine tools

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An in-depth analysis on how robots optimise machine tools.

Delta Vertical Robotic Arm

Though India is not having any manpower crisis, but skilled work-force is always a challenge. It will be more challenging day-by-day as manufacturing process is becoming more complicated to achieve the desired quality. Hence robotised production system is a need of the day. Here we will discuss various ways on how robotics meets the requirement of machine tools:

Turnkey solutions with robots
Robots can be used to improve the efficiency of loading, unloading, inspection, material handling, sub-assembly and assembly etc. for anything and everything in the manufacturing process. “The cost of robot has come down drastically. Machine tool companies have started offering Turnkey solution with robot. Hurco had executed nos. of such Turnkey projects with robot across the world,” says Sanjib Chakraborty, Country Head, Hurco India Pvt Ltd.

Improving overall production efficiency
Robot based automation ever since they came into existence has significantly altered the process of machining and change in production line in the manufacturing sector. Robots are playing a significant role in design, construction, operation and application of machines in manufacturing industries. It enables the industry to offer short delivery times and makes the production process profitable and efficient even for highly complex components.

Robots deliver a host of benefits in a wide variety of industrial applications including material handling, assembly, spot welding, painting, deburring, and plasma cutting, and so on. An advantage with robots is the flexibility in automation as they can be reprogrammed whenever new products are launched.

“The market for industrial robots is growing in India and industries are adopting more robotisation. Although the robotic revolution in India is driven by automotive industry, other applications such as machine tending, foundry, medical components processing and many more are also growing,” says V. Anbu, Director General & CEO, IMTMA.

Automation facilitates holistic approach in manufacturing
Efficiency and productivity are not only the new buzzwords round the corner in the manufacturing segment but they have become the mainstream of production environment. They are equally relevant in the corporate and the SME segments and both, efficiency cum productivity are consequential when they are consistent. In past decade enough efforts have been put in place to optimise the tag times in actual machining and to drive the productivity to next level. It is important to have more holistic approach of manufacturing facility and this is precisely where “automation” positions itself in context. Be it robot based automation or gantry based or a solution as simple as auto loader and unloader, all are part of this evolution story. It is a continuous process and we at Trumpf always are in the forefront working with our customers and business associates to deliver nothing but the best to facilitate solutions in the manufacturing segment, explains Pradeep Patil, Managing Director, TRUMPF India (Pvt) Ltd.

Importance of robotic implementation and adaptability challenges
Ever since the robots are invented, these are designed and programmed to perform human tasks. Especially for machine tools industry, robots support in terms of machine tending. “Machine tending is not new but we need to understand the adaptability to Indian conditions,” says Nitin Wakode, Associate Vice President PSG, Onward Technologies Ltd.

Machine tending is one of the most tedious tasks being repetitive in nature. India is country with ample availability of low cost manpower. The factor which a European or American usually put to justify use of robot is to reduce manpower cost is not valid in India and low cost countries like China, Taiwan, Philippines, Brazil and few other Asian countries.

Wakode feels that Indian industry has realised the importance of robotic implementation and adaptability challenges. Indian industry is looking for right mix of automation and human resource. It is obvious one can’t ask human to compete with such high performing CNC machines. He opines, “In order to balance the line or to match the speed of part cycle time and turnaround time of machine we must consider automation. Robot tending is one of the parts of the system but it will have to be complemented with automated conveyors, automated storage and retrieval systems. There are many other reasons which are making us to think and act on it.”

Optimisation of production is nothing but productivity
Productivity and quality are one of the key factors for machine shops or manufacturing industries. Optimisation is a buzzword which everyone talks about and wishes to implement. Optimisation of production is nothing but productivity, which is greatly dependant on various factors of machining activity. Cutting tool companies has done substantial work towards providing best cutting tools , inserts , holders and its parameters to achieve lowest machining times etc. Even machine tool industry equally made their machines fast and smart. The only factor which remains is human interface which is required for machine loading, setting and starting machines.

Wakode shares various factors that can justify use of robots to optimise the operation time as well as process:
• Latest machine tool technology equipment’s cycle times are too short hence human can reach fatigue level easily in very short time.
• If the fatigue levels are high you tend to find effect on productivity and quality as well.
• Operational hazard, due to high speed machining most of the times chips are red hot with sparks.
• Frequent setup change due to small batches with automated process flow can be effectively achieved using robotic arm.
• Too small parts or too heavy parts calls for robotic arm part feeding.

Implementing Industry 4.0: Leading change in machine tending and automation
Factories are in mode to adopt new technology in order to remain with the global market trend. Industry 4.0 revolution is considered to be on priority agenda for all the industries. Wakode believes that every equipment need to provide real-time data to make sure the plans are met and if there is any contingency the plan 2 is executed based on the logic incorporated. Machine tending will ensure very close and predictable production schedules. Ideally Industry 4.0 needs complete automation of the process.

With the implementation of industry 4.0 can see great scope for machine tending and automation. Some of the modern Indian factory shop floors are almost man-less where many of the machines are integrated with robotic automation, some robots are also integrated with other robot to work in collaboration and synchronisation. It is for sure such automation will help optimise the Machine tool utilisation to great extent.

Saves time, improves quality, and reduces accidents
Machine tools can benefit immensely with the use of robotics. They can be use for handling work pieces, palletising, machining etc. The major benefit is that it saves time, improves quality, and reduces accidents and above all increasing productivity in machine tool industry, informs Sanjay Kulkarni, MD, Pilz India Pvt Ltd.

He adds, “With the use of robotics human operators are relieved of doing demanding tasks of machining, loading and unloading tasks.”

Pilz offers robotic safety training
Pilz offers a wide product range in the field of robotic safety ranging from safety gate monitoring for robotic cells to 3D area monitoring. In the era of collaborative robot, Pilz provides robotic safety training which focus on the providing the essential requirements of robotic safety and provides an insight about the risks associated with the use of robotic systems.

Usage of robot differs from industry to industry
Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology Ltd says, “There are many categories of robot available. They are being utilised based on the requirements. It differs from industry to industry, company to company. At some process weight bearing capacity is the necessity whereas, at some premise, speed is a crucial element while for procedure, accuracy is the detrimental factor.”

He further explains “When it comes to the optimisation of machine tool, it simply depends upon the need of the manufacturing process. For instance, a laser cutting machine does the job of cutting the metal sheets. At many production units, the procedure requires to be mobilising these processed sheets. To place them over certain place, the robotic arm with heavy weight bearing capacity are programmed to do the task. Likewise there are many ways where robots being utilised with machine tools.”

Robotics, digitalisation and use of other ‘Industry 4.0’
Presently, business models in the manufacturing sector and specifically machine tool segment are not so stable because of over-reliance on manual workforce for different processes. From the moment raw material enters in a production facility and till the time a finished product is delivered, there are too many human touch points involved. This often reduces process visibility and makes the supply chain highly unpredictable. So as to counter this situation and to make this transition smooth and easy, it is important for engineering teams to start exploring new technologies and adopt which suits them best. “Robotics, digitalisation and use of other ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies can help in improvising the processes and optimise supply chain networks for the new demands placed upon them. Few popular solutions are Collaborative Robots for Machine Tending, Connected Autonomous Mobile Robots, Driverless Material Handling Equipment and Data Management and Analytics Tools,” says Kunal Pruthi, Consultant – Solutions & Business Development, The Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz Ltd.

It is quite evident now that to cope with external factors such as GST implementation, demonetisation and also other upcoming challenges in near future, it’s high time that professionals in this sector proactively assess the potential benefits of robotics, so that they can effectively handle transitions brought by these unpredictable reforms, states Pruthi.

Provide safe working environment
Robots directly improve the productivity and quality by reducing the manual intervention or time to load and unload the work piece to machine tool. “With support of robots the downstream process can be optimise to further improve the quality of the part which directly leads to the cost. Robots also help in optimising the shop floor and do create better job by providing the safe working environment,” says Anil Chaudhry – Head Robotics & Solutions, Industrial Automation Business Group, Delta Electronics India.

Delta is one of the global leaders at various segments along with Industrial Automation. They are supporting machine tool industry by providing the quality products and solutions. They are counted among one of the very few players globally, that can offer complete basket to machine tool industry which includes, CNC controllers with servo, robots, mechanical parts and products in field of IOT. “With our ‘easy to use’ products and solutions we do stand along with machine manufacturer and our customer to support them to be true global players,” claims Chaudhry.

Robots can be used to improve the efficiency of loading, unloading, inspection, material handling, sub-assembly and assembly etc. for anything and everything in the manufacturing process.

Sanjib Chakraborty, Country Head, Hurco India Pvt Ltd

Robots are playing a significant role in design, construction, operation and application of machines in manufacturing industries.

V. Anbu, Director General & CEO, IMTMA

It is important to have more holistic approach of manufacturing facility and this is precisely where “automation” positions itself in context.

Pradeep Patil, Managing Director, TRUMPF India (Pvt) Ltd

Machine tending is not new but we need to understand the adaptability to Indian conditions.

Nitin Wakode, Associate Vice President PSG, Onward Technologies Ltd.

When it comes to the optimisation of machine tool, it simply depends upon the need of the manufacturing process.

Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology Ltd

Machine tools can benefit immensely with the use of robotics. They can be use for handling work pieces, palletising, machining etc.

Sanjay Kulkarni, MD, Pilz India Pvt Ltd

With support of robots the downstream process can be optimise to further improve the quality of the part which directly leads to the cost.

Anil Chaudhry – Head Robotics & Solutions, Industrial Automation Business Group, Delta Electronics India

Robotics, digitalisation and use of other ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies can help in improvising the processes and optimise supply chain networks for the new demands placed upon them.

Kunal Pruthi, Consultant – Solutions & Business Development, The Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz Ltd

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