This automation is a gateway to lightless manufacturing

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This article was sponsored by Murata Machinery USA, Inc. | Muratec United States, a Thomas Verified manufacturer of automated machines and machine tools.

“Automation is what we do. It’s in our blood, ”says Jeff Holtzapple, North America Sales Manager at Murata Machinery USA, Inc. | Muratec United States.

The automated machine tool maker recently launched a new bin collection automation solution in partnership with Universal Robots (UR) which is considered the “next level of automation for turning machines”. The Muratec feeder features flexible ActiNav ™ ​​machine loading with real-time autonomous motion control software, intelligent 3D vision, and UR’s state-of-the-art cobots.

Doug Schrotenboer, Senior Mechanical Design Engineer for Murata Machinery, explains the multi-faceted benefits: parts finished, then put them in inventory – without ever being touched by an operator. This improves speed, reduces processing errors, and fills skills gaps, as employers can now train their employees for higher and more advanced positions.

Murata Machinery USA, Inc. is more than a global leader in automated turning solutions. As a subsidiary of Murata Machinery Ltd – which was established in 1935 and is Muratec’s only manufacturing brand – it is part of a legacy of automated material handling systems, cleanroom automation, machine tools and manufacturing technology, and textile machinery. Yet it sets itself apart in developing solutions specifically for the North American market from its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We have played an important role in automation in key industries like automotive,” says Holtzapple. Murata’s work also extends to agriculture, aircraft, clothing, bearings, civil aerospace, medicine, oil and gas, pharmacy, retail, hospitality solar energy and valves and fittings.

“Murata is very different from the competition because we can automate the entire supply chain,” says Christine Spiegel, director of strategic marketing at Murata Machinery. “At the end of the day, what we do for our customers is help them build it, move it, store it and maintain it for the life of the machine.

David Beltran – Murata Machinery Division Operations and Engineering Director – Holtzapple, Schrotenboer and Spiegel explained why some manufacturers are still reluctant to embrace automation despite its benefits to industry, how their partnership with UR is helping them meet the needs of customers and the new machine coming from Japan, it will be a game-changer for them.

Discover the Muratec power supply with Cobot models from Universal Robots

  • This automation is a gateway to unattended operations and unattended manufacturing. It reduces downtime in factories and warehouses, keeping the spindles rotating while feeding the machine without interruption.
  • “Where there is a power device or an outlet device, it is designed and built to OSHA standards. The automation we offer is as secure as it gets, ”says Holtzapple.
  • It can be deployed on all Muratec towers: MW50, MW100, MW120, MW200, MW400, MS and MT.
  • There are four Muratec compatible UR cobot options, each with six 360 ° rotating joints that feed multiple parts from dedicated bins.
  • Equipped with intelligent vision, cobots learn by demonstration to recover only the corresponding parts, with a bin-to-place accuracy of +/- 0.03 mm. They can handle a variety of sizes and shapes of parts.
  • Unlike some competitors’ automation solutions, Murata machines are efficiently sized even for small installations.

Thomas Insights (TI): How is automation advancing manufacturing today?

Jeff Holtzapple (JH): Manufacturers realize that they must move towards automation. If you look at the industry, we’ve had a huge labor shortage for years – I would say decades. With the pandemic and the effects it has had on the workforce – people being forced to stay at home and job cuts – it is even more important today that manufacturers turn to automation, ensuring that business operations can continue and adapt quickly to market changes. .

David Beltran (DB): Manufacturers are increasingly open to automation as they begin to see the need and the long term return on investment. As technology has improved dramatically in automation with robots, it has become easier now to program a robot. Manufacturers are starting to see this as an option for them. We’re here to help customers with training and education on the benefits of automation.

Doug Schrotenboer (DS): Robots and cobots are used in a number of ways throughout our automation process, one of which involves putting parts into the machine. Another would be to remove the finished parts from this machine. One of the main differentiators is the ability to integrate our systems with our logistics and automation division, using their storage and retrieval systems and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to retrieve parts from inventory. and transport them to the lathe. The same AGVs are then programmed to retrieve the finished parts from the other side of the machine and bring them back into inventory without ever being touched by human hands. It also allows the customer to run production 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, achieving unlighted operation.

TI: What are the top questions prospects have about working with automation and robots, and how do you answer them?

JH: Many people who haven’t studied automation seem to be intimidated by it. They feel that their farm is not big enough, but it may not be at all. We see simple automation there.

We get questions like “How to automate?” How can I do this? We take them by the hand and walk them through the process, reviewing their operations, evaluating the parts they produce, providing time studies and showing the ROI data that our automation can do for them. to supply.

This is what we do day in and day out. We share what we do with clients and show how it can benefit their business. We have a lot of expertise in this area – choose our brains!

DS: Part of this bullying is the fear of complexity. They think automation automatically adds complexity to the system, and it doesn’t. We can show them how easy it is to program the robot or the cobot.

TI: In addition to helping business bottom lines, how do robots and cobots advance the careers of human workers?

JH: It’s not about eliminating staff: automation allows you to use your staff more efficiently.

Automation has created a huge number of additional jobs, from programmers and control engineers to application engineers. There still need to be people who know how to program the equipment and operate it efficiently. In some cases, there may be a post that has been deleted, but this generates another post in a more technical area.

DS: Robots used in integrated automation allow manufacturers to move an employee working in mundane and hazardous conditions loading parts one at a time, eight to 10 hours a day, to become a machine operator or move to another manufacturing station with the appropriate training.

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TI: How does your partnership with Universal Robots improve your ability to solve customers’ biggest challenges?

BD: We are a certified systems integrator with Universal Robots, which allows us to further support customers requiring unmanned automation with collaborative robots that integrate with our machines. Our ability to offer a range of UR robot arm options provides our customers with increased safety, manpower reduction options, and more flexible solutions for manufacturing a variety of parts.

DS: Our robot integration development has been underway for over a year. Our association with Universal Robots has enabled us to rely on their expertise and knowledge in the success of this new robotic cell.

There are many ways to use a robot to perform a specific task, and one of the biggest challenges is making sure it solves the customer’s problem. The association we have with Universal Robots has really helped in this regard.

TI: Is there something new coming up that you would like to highlight?

JH: A little known fact is that we have a full line of single spindle turning centers. And we recently refurbished our MS50 with an infeed table, tool holders, and a full range of options to choose from. We’ve also reduced the MS50 from a double-sided gantry to a single gantry, making it the perfect, compact footprint for stores with space constraints or an extension of an existing system.

We have a new machine coming from Japan next year that will be a game changer for us: a lathe with a Y axis. We have the MD Live Tool version, but this Y axis allows parts to move up and down. a spindle center and perform more complex milling.

Christine Spiegel (CS): We will be attending FABTECH in Chicago from September 13-16. We show how Muratec means more integrated automation at all levels. You are going to see towers, multi-function manufacturing machines, and intelligent AGVs that enable extinguishing operations.

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Image Credit: Image courtesy of Murata Machinery USA, Inc. | Muratec United States

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