Maximise your Productivity: Robotics come to sheet Metal Manufacturing
The first Industrial Revolution came about through the use of systems and tools to produce items on a scale and a cost and with a consistent quality that had not previously been possible. Changes for manufacturing companies in the sheet metal sector in the last 40 years has been dramatic.
The competition from low-cost economies has meant that most manufacturers of high volume items moved abroad. While at the same time, the introduction of CNC punch presses and press brakes enabled small workshops to turn out products in volumes that could not have been imagined previously. Companies and consumers are also demanding quicker deliveries and more tailored and bespoke products. These developments offer UK companies more opportunities to regain a share of their home market and to increase their share of the world market. This requires a re-thinking of automation.
Automation has been slow to take off in the UK as many companies have preferred to use cheap labour than invest in new equipment and methodologies, but this is not a good long or even medium-term strategy. It has often been the case that the changes required to manufacturing methods in order to make it work are viewed as a cost, not a benefit. Coupled with the view that automation is only good for very high production volumes, this has meant that automation was ruled out in many organisations, particularly the smaller ones. In sheet metal, the use of robots has been limited and has chiefly been for press brake automation. Compared to say the car industry, where volumes are high, their use has been minimal.
Manufacturing automation used to be about producing large volumes of goods with little ability to change and adapt part mixes and volumes. In sheet metal manufacturing, automation often still requires manual labour to separate parts from nests in sheets, especially if the parts are too small, too large or too complex for standard part pickers. That is changing now. We have developed a robot system that can be used to pick parts out of a CNC punch press or laser and stack them on a table, shelves or in bins, according to customer requirements. The system is programmed offline and offers the reliability and accuracy of modern robotics, the ease of use and power of CAD/CAM programming and the flexibility to be adapted to the user’s needs. It is tailored to the user’s requirements in terms of floor space, component type and part stacking. Individual parts are often too large or too small or too complex to pick out using conventional OEM picking systems, and the systems themselves are large and expensive and not suitable for many workshops.
The use of the robotic system allows the selection of the size of the robot, bespoke gripper design, and special layouts to suit each particular installation. The system also offers a new advantage in that it can be adapted to suit new requirements, – the gripper can be changed for new products and the stack positions and system layout can also be changed as necessary.
Videos of a system at work:
To find out more about how using robotics can benefit your business contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call James on 07739901750