CNC Machine Loading and Tending Made Simple


November 2020

Collaborative Robots for CNC Machine Tending

High precision CNC machining can offer many advantages, in terms of cost, the ability to machine complex geometry and of course a high level of repeatability. CNC setters and programmers are highly skilled people and therefore usually command a high salary to match their skill set.

For most organisations, the ability to utilise people where they are applying their skills as much as possible makes sense. In the case of CNC setters and programmers, this would typically be for setting and programming. However, in today’s climate, many companies are having to look at ways of streamlining their operations and therefore utilise their highly skilled engineers for machining loading and pressing program start. Is this the most economical way to do things, and what are the alternatives?


When Were Collaborative Robots first Introduced?

Collaborative robots were introduced by Universal robots around ten years ago and designed to work in close proximity with humans to carry out repetitive tasks such as machine loading. For CNC machine tending, collaborative robots are an ideal “flexible” employee that can be utilised when required. Simple to program, easily shared between multiple workstations, cobots are an employee that can work 24/7 to carry out repetitive tasks.


Your New Work Colleague – Ready Straight Out of The Box.

So you have been considering collaborative robots to replace some repetitive and costly processes, however, you don’t feel you have the in-house expertise to allow you to put them into production.


Overcoming the fear of introducing collaborative robots…


Do I require previous programming skills?

The simple answer is no. What is essential is a good understanding of the process that you are trying to get the robot to carry out.  Universal Robots’ patented technology lets operators with no programming experience quickly set up and operate our cobots. With intuitive 3D visualisation you simply move the robot arm to desired waypoints or touch the arrow keys on the easy-to-use touchscreen tablet. Also, the Universal Robot CNC tending application builder can effectively generate your program for you.


How quickly can I have the UR arm up and running?

Universal Robots has revolutionised cobot set-up, reducing deployment time from weeks to hours. The average set-up time reported by our customers is only half a day. The experience for an untrained operator to unpack the robot, mount it, and program the first simple task is typically less than an hour.


Do they suit a flexible automation approach?

Don’t be limited by traditional robots that can only do one thing. Universal robots are lightweight, space-saving, and easy to re-deploy to multiple applications without changing your production layout. Moving the cobot to a new process is fast and easy, giving you the ability to automate even small batch runs and frequent line changeovers


ROI – How quickly will I get my money back?

An average worker in the UK will cost around £30k when taking into account overheads, Pay, NI, pensions etc. Employing someone for ten years is going to cost you around £300k. If we say that a cobot will probably cost in the region of £20k-30k, in year one you will have bought the robot. For each year, you will be saving £30k and have a system in your production process that will upskill your workforce.  – A typical payback period for a UR is around 6-12 months.


Leasing as an option

Universal Robots launched its new cobot leasing program in collaboration with DLL, a global vendor finance company. The new partnership enables all manufacturers, regardless of size or capital equipment budgets, to reap the benefits of automation without worrying about cash flow and seasonal fluctuations. This cost can be from as little as £450/month.

“We’re levelling the playing field by enabling all manufacturers to immediately put cobots to work without an upfront capital investment,” said Klaus Vestergaard, CFO at Universal Robots. “UR Financial Services offers end-users a fast, low-risk and financially-friendly model to accelerate automation in their factories. The partnership makes it easy to upgrade existing cobots, add additional units or test cobots for the first time – and equips end-users to maximise productivity, quality and profitability, without increasing costs or cash outlay.”

DLL offers UR’s customers tailor-made financing and leasing programs designed to meet the needs of the modern manufacturing business while enabling growth. As business needs change, customers will have the option to schedule payments to fit fluctuations in cash flow, upgrade to new equipment, or add cobots anytime during the contract term. At the end of the finance term, customers will have the option to buy the equipment for a fraction of the original cost, upgrade to newer technology, extend the finance term or return the equipment.


How robust are the arms?

Universal robots have been on the market for over ten years, and therefore this allows the data that’s been gathered over this period to establish the robustness. The data has shown that typically, each joint will last for around 36000 hours which equates to 4 years of continuous use. Using this single shift will potentially make your new colleague serve you for 12 years without failure. In the event that a joint does fail, a new sealed unit can be replaced within an hour.


In summary, clients looking to adopt low cost, and flexible automation with limited technical knowledge has no barriers. The UR Business model is not designed to replace humans, but allow these arms to work alongside them and increase output and profitability in the customers they are deployed in.


If you require an onsite demo, contact us on 01382 880088 or [email protected]



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