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ABB Robotics
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Smart, Robotic Machine Tending

Nov. 9, 2021
Standardized modules offer flexibility for multiple requirements, easy expansion to meet changing needs, and vision-based programming that simplifies set-up and increases utilization.

ABB ROBOTICS launched the FlexLoader M family of modular machine-tending application cells for metal processing and fabricating, aimed at maximizing flexibility and machine utilization while minimizing lost productivity caused by unforeseen production stoppages. Six different versions of the FlexLoader M family offer various ways of loading and unloading machines based on the size, shapes, and number of workpieces to be handled, making it ideal for applications such as foundries and diecasting operations producing multiple types of products in varying quantities.

“As customers demand greater variety and shorter delivery times, metals producers need to have a manufacturing process that can respond quickly and offer the flexibility to achieve high mix, low volume and batch size one production,” according to Andrea Cassoni, managing director for business line General Industry for ABB Robotics. “FlexLoader M is accelerating this move by providing a single unified machine tool tending platform offering the flexibility needed for handling a wide variety of production demands, whilst also improving productivity by eliminating the time, cost and disruption traditionally associated with production changes.”

The first variants available are the Tray and Conveyor models, with further variants due for release over the coming months.

The FlexLoader M Conveyor uses a simple but powerful vision system for easy loading of workpieces with complex shapes, providing the flexibility to handle a variety of workpieces with a single cell.

The FlexLoader M Tray is a drawer solution offering easy machine tending. With a minimal footprint that allows it to be located almost anywhere, it is suited to handling a variety of workpieces with variable shapes, such as cubes, cylinders, plates and pipes.

With standardized interchangeable modules, the FlexLoader M series offers a flexible and expandable solution for a wide variety of machine-tending applications, including lathes, mills, CNC and machining centers. An important benefit is the ability to use the same base machine, exchanging in and out feed modules as requirements change. The FlexLoader M’s modular approach makes upgrading and scaling up easy, with just one to two days needed on average for installation and commissioning.

The FlexLoader M meets manufacturers’ demand for a simple automated solution that produces more workpieces in less time. FlexLoader M robot cells are user friendly and quick to program, even without specific robotics expertise. A smart wizard allows new workpieces to be programmed in less than five minutes with no vision programming expertise required, while changeover between pieces which are already programmed is possible in less than one minute, making “Batch Size One” production a reality. The simplicity of the programming software means that full operator training can be completed in less than half a day, further reducing the time needed to put the cell into operation. Learn more at