Automation adoption not automatic

Published Date
August 13, 2021 - 11:30:am

Whether you're new to automation or looking to further the use of automation by implementing cellular machining, standard automation packages are cost-effective and increase throughput, according to Zachary S. Spencer, automation manager of robotics for Methods Machine Tools Inc. in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

What's the main difference between the two types of aforementioned customers? Those who have robots and horizontal pallet pool machine tools, for example, understand the productivity-boosting benefits that automated work cells provide — they don't need to be convinced, Spencer explained. Those who are new to automation, however, need persuasion.

“They’re not used to setting up a machine and walking away from it,” Spencer said. “Everybody is always a little bit afraid of hitting that green go button for the first time. It’s really just a comfort level with having a yellow robot load and unload a machine rather than having a person standing in front of it.”

For one high-mix, low-volume application, Methods Machine Tools reported that it worked with diamond tool manufacturer CDP Diamond Products Inc. in Livonia, Michigan, to design, create, test and integrate a custom turnkey automation cell composed of a Fanuc CRX cobot (video demo), two Fanuc C600iA Robocuts and an infeed/outfeed system.

Initially, some employees at CDP Diamond Products were not convinced that Methods Machine Tools could automate the toolmaking process or that automation was the answer, said Steve Dillon, vice president of CDP Diamond Products. Once chips started flying, however, the staff was sold.

Dillon estimated that the automation cell, which runs unattended on nights and weekends, increased productivity by 75% on the Robocuts.

Related Glossary Terms

  • robotics


    Discipline involving self-actuating and self-operating devices. Robots frequently imitate human capabilities, including the ability to manipulate physical objects while evaluating and reacting appropriately to various stimuli. See industrial robot; robot.


Based on an article in Cutting Tool Engineering's June 2024 issue.

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