In October, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, a smaller machine shop in Wisconsin needed a robot to deburr parts—and fast. Acieta jumped to fill the void: About a week after the machine shop bought Acieta’s FastLOAD CX1000, it was shipped. Better yet, the robot’s touchscreen interface made it easy to program.
“They were a new robot user, but they were able to program the standard, entry-level, collaborative robotic system themselves,” said Jake Corning, a mechanical engineer and product engineer for standard products at Acieta. “Very quickly after they purchased it, they were able to begin programming the system, which was pre-assembled, on their floor.”
The shop is expected to recoup its investment in the FastLOAD CX1000—Acieta’s newest product, based on FANUC’s CRX-10iA/L collaborative 6-axis robot—within six to 12 months (based on two shifts). Part of the reason is the system is highly mobile and self-contained.
“They got the robot on a base that was mounted on wheels. And that allowed them to easily move it around their shop floor. It’s easy to move from one area to another with one operator. They can just push it,” he said. “They don’t have to use pallet jacks or forklifts.”
The standard robotic systems offer flexibility and efficiency when life happens—whether it is a pandemic or something else. Customers often do not have to engineer anything themselves.
Acieta is doing its part to get U.S. manufacturers on board with collaborative robots, whether they are to be used for machine tending, part handling, assembly, picking and placing, palletizing, packing, inspection, material removal (like deburring), welding or packaging.
With its long tenure in the field, one thing Acieta has learned is to always be prepared to turn on a dime—so that its customers can do the same.
Interest in the FastLOAD CX1000 has been strong: Acieta has been ordering robots “well in advance because we want to ensure a one-week lead time,” Corning said. “This way, we can keep up with orders as they come in.”
The firm is mostly known for its custom robotic solutions, and it is proud to use its nearly 40 years of experience to offer standard robotic and cobot solutions with the high quality and efficient design its custom clients expect from Acieta.
It hasn’t hurt the industry that technological advancements have expanded cobots’ capabilities to where they make sense in a variety of manufacturing applications.
“Ease of programming is a big one,” he said. “FANUC has developed a drag-and-drop, touch-screen interface that makes programming much simpler than traditional teach-pendant programming of a traditional robot. That makes it a lot less intimidating for new users. And to redeploy the system, you don’t have to be super knowledgeable about robot programming.”
Partnerships between cobot makers like FANUC and accessory companies like SCHUNK and OnRobot are also helping the industry advance. “The accessories, like grippers and screwdrivers, keep increasing, he said. “They really help adopters use the same robot in a variety of applications.”
Corning is “very optimistic that 2021 will be a big year for a lot of companies,” he said, “because a lot of companies froze their spending in 2020 because of all the uncertainty. With continuing labor challenges and impending onshoring that is expected to occur in 2021 and beyond, manufacturers are looking to leverage robotics more than ever before to help meet production demands.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in quoting activity and in purchase orders recently as the environment is stabilizing and manufacturers are starting to invest in their businesses again.” —Brett Brune
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