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Where Automation & Innovation Meet – Introducing Our New Friend the Fanuc CR15

At UMC, we are constantly working to improve our processes and produce better parts for our clients in more efficient ways. A great example of this would be the integration of our latest technology – the Fanuc CR15 – a neon green collaborative robot recently installed on our shop floor.

We spoke with UMC Automation Engineer, Brian DeGrote, to learn more about this new piece of equipment and how it’s impacting our workflow.

Could you first tell us a little bit about automation and the role it plays at UMC?

Automation is the use of equipment to do tasks with little to no human assistance. This takes many forms at UMC. In large scale, all our CNC and CMMs are automated equipment. We are using automation in production, data collection, part transfer, washing and more. Automation is currently focused towards machine run time. We are looking to automate machines to increase output.

How does automation relate to innovation?

These two concepts go hand in hand. The innovative ideas from our manufacturing team produce the processes that make parts consistently for long durations without human interaction. Without this consistency, any kind of machine tending could potentially just lead to increased production rates of scrap parts. The up-front work and new ideas lead to better outcomes internally at the machine and ultimately for the customer.

So, tell us about the new Fanuc CR-15?

The CR-15 is one model of collaborative robot offered by Fanuc. Collaborative robots are often no different functionally than traditional industrial robots. However, they have added safety features that allow them to operate in spaces that may have humans present.

What excites you most about the Fanuc CR15?

It has allowed us to automate a machine that was near another machine entrance. If we were to try and automate this process with a similar non-collaborative robot, we would have started hindering the ability to work within that machine. The ability to work safely closer to the robot allows us to maximize our current manufacturing footprint more effectively.

How will the Fanuc CR15 impact your process at UMC?

The integration of the robot will enable us to schedule beyond currently staffed hours and allow skilled machinists to run other machines requiring their attention at a higher level. The addition of the automation increases our potential production output with a similar sized staff and drives our machine utilization up across the shop.

How will UMC customers benefit from this new addition?

UMC customers will benefit from this robot and others to come. The automation allows us to schedule beyond what was previously possible looking at only staffed hours and will lead to more production for new work. The automated processes also smooth the ebb and flow of manual intervention creating more accurate scheduling dates and consistency on lead times.

Last question, why does UMC focus on innovation?

Innovation at UMC means being a leader in manufacturing tight tolerance parts made from challenging materials. We strive to produce what others may turn away. As the aerospace and medical world continues to evolve, tolerances are getting tighter and materials are becoming more challenging to work with. We’re always looking at new ways to create features, new tooling, and improved fixturing to produce more consistent parts for our customers.

Interested in learning more about automation and robotics at UMC? Check out some of our other engaging blog posts:

Anticipation and Action: How UMC is Predicting and Preparing for the Future

Happy National Robotics Week! Why We Love and Support Robotics