Understanding Machine Tending

Published On December 10, 2019 | By Julie Lacross | Tech

Machine tending can be defined using multiple terminologies. These include CNC machine tending, autonomous machine tending, or robotic machine tending. All these terminologies translate to the execution of the same action. Let’s discuss the different types of machine tending and how it can be achieved.

What’s Machine Tending?

Machine tending is the process of loading, and/or unloading a certain machine with materials or parts. While technology is advancing rapidly, many applications that involve machine tending are still executed by humans. Many machine shops rely on human workers to load and unload machines and relaunch a program when the finished part is unloaded.

As industries evolve and qualified workers become hard to find, companies are integrating robots in their work stations to counterbalance the employee deficiency. The most popular robotic machine tending applications can be found in machine shops where robots load raw material, the machine enforces its program, and the robot unloads the finished part and loads the machine with the next raw part.

This process can be executed in a circle numerous times, as long as the robots receive raw parts continuously, and the machine generates quality parts. Some industries utilize robots to complete part of their products such as; discharging injection molding machines. Is production in your company continuous?

Do you have deadlines to meet? If you do, a robot that’s capable of clearing parts from the mold would be critical. This would promote the continuous running of the machine to enhance productivity.

How can you Attain Machine Tending for a Small Shop?

Many machine shops that are facing workforce challenges are small and medium-sized enterprises. While they have a limited budget, they could use part of it to set up robots in their branches. Another restricting factor that small shops face is; having multiple productions albeit low volume production.

Often, this leads to small and medium enterprise entrepreneurs in assuming that robots are only ideal for large companies. What these small shops don’t realize that robots are more flexible today and this makes them easy to program. As a result, small shops can easily incorporate a robot in their operations. Hand guiding, adaptive grippers, and flexible robot arms can play a key role in the success of small shops. In this case, the robot and the gripper can be used to carry, and objects regardless of their shape and size in the machine. Further, the robot can come in handy to reprogram the machine fast.

This would allow the human worker enough time to evaluate the quality of the products. Workers would also concentrate on other important matters such as; preparing for subsequent configurations rather than: loading the machine manually, monitoring the operation, and waiting for the program to finalize.

Investing in Machine Tending Cells

There are various machine tending cell options for you to choose as seen below.

·         The DIY Kit

You can easily develop your cell with the help of an end effector and a collaborative robot. Further, you can customize it to fit your actual setup. This is the cheapest option that doesn’t require safety guarding. The programming can be executed through hand guiding. Integrating this setup is easy and it offers a speedy payback which can be less than a year.

·         Then I’m Busy Integrated Kit

Pre-engineered machine tending cells are already available. Whether you’re using an industrial or collaborative robot, the kit features everything you could need for your machine tending application. These systems, however, can become expensive as a result of the multiple accessories and integration time required. This system is likely to cost $50,000 and would still give you a fast payback.

·         The All-Inclusive Kit

If your objective is to buy a robot that’s capable of handling multiple applications in your establishment, you may need to invest more money. Such a setup would be ideal for use with industrial robots, and will require; a dedicated space to accommodate the machine tending cell as well as the human programmers, and safety guarding. Some manufacturers offer inbuilt programming kits that are easier to program. Still, you’d need to train your staff to ensure they’re conversant with the robot operations.


Small shops can incorporate robotic machine tending in their operations. Establish the needs of your company first before adopting systems that could complicate your operations rather than enhance them.


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