Automation is rapidly becoming less an option and more a necessity when it comes to machine tools, and just like machine tools, automated handling systems are continually being updated and improved.
Most recently, Makino announced the availability of a new design configuration for its Modular Machining Complex (MMC2) automated pallet-handling system, making it compatible with the company’s a61nx-5E 5-axis horizontal machining center.
The updated MMC2 retains the same modular design and capabilities of its predecessors, but with a new pallet-transfer interface on the system’s rail-guided vehicle (RGV). As a result, manufacturers are able to achieve spindle utilization rates upwards of 95 percent on a61nx-5E machines, according to Makino.
“Based on feedback from current a61nx-5E owners, we’d come to realize that the machine’s productive capabilities were so high that most operators were struggling to keep their machines fed with raw materials,” said David Ward, product marketing manager at Makino. “By providing this optional pallet interface on the MMC2, we’re able to help manufacturers keep up with the productivity rates of the a61nx-5E to get the most value out of their investments.”
The MMC2 can integrate up to 15 machining centers and four work-setting stations into a single system. Each system can hold up to 200 pallet stockers—stacked either one, two or three layers high—with a variety of parts and fixtures.
The system’s RGV is supported by a floor rail and upper-guide rail for enhanced stability and high-speed movement. The system’s work-setting stations provide access for operators to load and unload parts either by hand or crane.
The MMC2 can also be equipped with optional workpiece washing guns.
The pallet-handling system enables the a61nx-5E to receive a continual flow of parts and can run unattended for extended periods, including over nights and weekends.
The updated MMC2 retains the same Microsoft Windows-based MAS-A5 control software. The MAS-A5 main PC hard drive stores and manages all NC programs, including those that exceed CNC memory.
Tool data, both in and out of the a61nx-5E machines, can be accessed and modified from the MAS-A5 user interface. A variety of file formats for tooling and part information are supported and can be displayed to assist with part loading/unloading and tool-setting operations.
The Tool-Life Predict function enables the MAS-A5 to gather tool-life data per NC program. When a request is opened, this function informs the operator of how long a tool will be used in each NC program execution, as well as how many spare tools per machine are required to finish any work that is currently loaded or awaiting processing at the time that the request was placed. The MAS-A5 then schedules work only for the machines that meet tool-life and availability requirements for the desired process sequence.
Interfacing with a tool presetter can also reduce errors by automatically capturing tool-offset data, which can be transferred from the presetter to the MAS-A5 system control.
Standard control features include in-cell production scheduling, equipment status monitoring, NC program management and on-board reporting. These capabilities enable the MMC2 to assign work and initiate operations automatically, based on machine and material availability, using maximum spindle capabilities and monitoring all automated procedures.
| A machinery.com release || March 30, 2017 ||