How to futureproof operations for moulding and robotics solutions

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Joe Mumby, technical sales manager, ROBOSHOT, FANUC UK, explains how manufacturers can futureproof their operations by working with a single supplier for both their injection moulding and robotics solutions.

Within the medical sector, automated injection moulding machines can produce plastic parts to the highest industry standards accurately and consistently, helping to alleviate the burden of a shrinking labour pool. And if they are combined with robotics, they can deliver even greater benefits – increased output, improved health and safety standards, greater production capacity, and reduced energy bills, to name just a few. 

Choosing one supplier for both your robotics and automated moulding solutions can pay even further dividends. From ease of integration and a single point of contact for installation and after-sales support, to access to the latest smart innovations and superior AI technology, this approach is one way that firms in the plastics sector can fast track their way to greater success.

Seamless integration

One of the main barriers to robotics is the belief that it is too complicated. Injection moulding companies may feel they lack the in-house capabilities to programme or integrate robotics into their existing line, but working with a company that manufactures both robotics and injection moulding machines can help to relieve this pressure. 

As a robotics company that also makes automated injection moulding machines, compatibility between our product ranges is assured. Manufactured to the same high standards and containing the same proprietary components, such as CNC controls, motors and drives, the FANUC ROBOSHOT injection moulding machine can be integrated with our industrial robots. 

Specialist sector knowledge

Another potential barrier to automation is knowing how best to integrate it into your existing production line. Working with a supplier that understands your sector, your products and your customers is therefore essential to ensure you get the best value from any investment. FANUC’s specialist in-house team can design and manufacture custom water, air and hydraulic systems to user required specifications (URS), combining the company’s 35-year history of making moulding machines with the experience of manufacturing over one million robots.

Smart AI features

A further benefit of working with the same supplier for both robotics and injection moulding technology is the advanced intelligent functionality that comes as standard with a global automation leader like FANUC. The ROBOSHOT incorporates smart AI features that can monitor the moulding parameters and adjust the motor accordingly, to ensure it is always working at the correct tolerance for the part being produced. Delivering a consistent quality output without any drop in performance can help firms to maintain their brand reputation and win and retain business. In addition, the volume of scrap parts and waste being generated in the factory will be reduced, boosting a company’s sustainability credentials as well as its profit margins.

Measuring long-term benefits

It is important to consider potential savings and costs such as these when specifying any new technology. When it comes to automation, purchase price typically accounts for just 15% of the cost of ownership. Energy costs can be a major drain, so ensure you question any potential supplier about their system’s sustainability credentials.

Electric injection moulding machines consume considerably less energy than their traditional hydraulic counterparts – up to as much as 70% – largely due to their higher base load. The ROBOSHOT’s power regeneration enables intelligent energy recovery. This means that, overall, it uses 10-15% less energy than other all-electric machines. 

Agile solution

A final point to mention is that manufacturing is not static, and it is highly likely that your production needs will alter over time. Ensuring that your injection moulding automation system can flex with your company’s evolving needs is therefore essential. FANUC robots and ROBOSHOT are both highly flexible; they can either be redeployed to a new task as one cell with only the mould tool and end-of-arm tooling requiring a change, or they can be split up and moved onto different tasks entirely. Make sure that any solution you specify is as flexible as this to ensure the best return on investment.

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