Defeat Downtime with Speedy Tool Changes

Robotic systems from dedicated rails to cobots can increase productivity and reduce startup time with faster tool changeovers.

The single most important measure of success in robotic manufacturing is overall equipment effectiveness. This complex measure encompasses multiple factors: line speed, of course, but also maintenance and idle time for tool changeovers.

For systems utilizing dedicated rails, significant time is required to change tools whenever a change is made to the part being manufactured. This usually requires removing the entire rail with the tools or end effectors attached and inserting a different rail altogether. Changing out a dedicated rail is a heavy, manual operation, as it often requires multiple workers and a crane. And, of course, the rail is typically stored remotely until it is needed again, at which point the whole changeover process must be repeated.

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Moreover, in many plants, these dedicated rails eat up valuable press operating space—the tools are mounted permanently on the face of the rails where room is tight, clamp stroke is limited, and dies come close to the tooling.

The advent of quick tool changer technology is poised to address these challenges and radically alter the tool changeover process. In this system, the receiver portion of the tool changer is permanently attached to the face of the rail, but the tools themselves are attached to adapters that easily snap in to the receiver.

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