Unite is a young company and we have been growing fast over the last 12 months, with growth comes problems and ours was capacity, there was simply not enough hours in the day to make enough parts. Reeco Automation a local automation specialist had the answer, a Universal Robots UR5 collaborative robot or as more commonly known, a cobot!
Cobots are a relatively new technology, they share a lot of similarities with industrial robots but they are considerably cheaper, easier to program and don't need as strict health and safety measures. For these reasons cobots are becoming the first choice for automated machine tending. Whilst they are a lot simpler, integrating the cobot to a CNC machine is more of a challenge. Again this where Reeco Automation stepped in and integrated the UR5 to our Haas CNC milling machine, this allows the robot and the machine to communicate with each other.
We use this process to run both our stems and pedals, as show in picture above, the raw material is placed in the cartridge on the right hand side, once the operator has fully loaded the cartridge the machine and robot are set to run, the machine doors will open and the robot will place the billet into a pneumatic vice inside the machine, the robot will return, the doors will shut and the pedal will be machined, the robot will pick the part out of the vice and place in the stack on the left hand side. This process will be repeated until all the billets are machined.
Investing in this automation has allowed us to run this machine 24 hours/7 days a week almost completely un-manned. It has also freed up staff giving them more time for the day to day running of Unite, we are working more efficiently then ever. There's no doubt this project has been a huge success and is the 1st of many automation projects to come.