Automated Fixture Plate Distribution System for 4- and 5-Axis Machines

March 1, 2010
Makinos MMC-R provides increased machine and labor efficiencies for high product mix, low volume production runs

The new Makino fixture plate automation system is conceived to increase availability and flexibility of machining centers.

Makino has introduced a new automation system for robotic fixture plate distribution in 4- and 5-axis horizontal and vertical machining centers. The new MMC-R automation system is "perfectly suited" for high product mix and low-volume production runs, the developer says. The MMC-R makes machine loading, unloading, and part storage more accurate and reliable, so operators can increase spindle utilization and reduce setup times.

The MMC-R is designed for flexibility. It will accommodate a variety of customizable configurations, so it’s simple to integrate with existing shop floor arrangements. Citing a typical shop-floor arrangement — a 4- and/or 5-axis horizontal and vertical machining centers, a 6-axis robot transport, work setting stations, fixture plate storage racks, and fixture plates — Makino indicates that an optional 7th axis floor track can be integrated into the MMC-R to improve asset utilization by supporting extra machining and storage capacity.

Fixture plates are made of steel in a range of sizes based on the machine size, 4- or 5-axis machining, and robot specifications. Delphin interfaces secure the fixture-plate transfer between the robot gripper and the machine tombstone, so production is accurate and repeatable. Part fixture costs will be reduced because transporting fixture plates is more efficient than maintaining a complete machine pallet.

The MMC-R can incorporate Makino's MAS-A5 Cell Controller to coordinate production schedules of fixture plate transfers, reducing machine downtime. The cell controller monitors the conditions of the robot transport and guides the robot through its transfer tasks. HMI is included for initial setup and alarm/event messaging, to ensure in-progress production security.

Makino’s online library offers an instructional webinar on the MMC-R, "A new concept in simple automation for horizontal machining centers."