Compact multi-pallet automation with Mazak
With machine tool automation coming to the fore as more manufacturers embrace the working practices encouraged by Industry 4.0, Mike Sykes, Manager – Automation Systems at Yamazaki Mazak outlines the company’s latest high productivity offering.
Yamazaki Mazak has an illustrious history when it comes to automated pallet systems for machine tools, and has been involved in the design and manufacture of them for over 30 years. Mazak launched its Multi Pallet Pool (MPP) series of compact multiple pallet stocker systems in answer to the increasing global demand for higher productivity automation for multiple variety, small lot production.
Building on the expertise used to develop Mazak’s highly popular PALLETECH, the MPP system offers high-speed pallet transfer and extended unmanned running capability compared to twin or six pallet automation systems. Specifically designed for unmanned lights out running, an MPP system can be as much as 94% more productive than a standard 2-pallet changer.
For example, an unmanned Mazak VARIAXIS i-600 machining centre fitted with an 18-pallet MPP could complete 16 more workpieces than the same machine fitted with a 2-pallet changer during a night shift, as the latter requires every workpiece to be loading and unloaded by hand. In contrast, the MPP system can load / unload up to 18 workpieces at a time without the need for human input; freeing up more capacity for the operator to conduct other work in the meantime. This translates to the possibility of either eliminating the need to run night shifts if desired, or conversely, the option to consciously run the cell unmanned through the night to boost production.
The MPP benefits from an economic footprint, which can be up to 40% smaller than a comparable PALLETECH system. The use of AC servomotors in the driving system facilitates high-speed pallet transfer, further minimising the non-cutting time for the machine too. As all axes are driven by servomotors, traditional maintenance issues linked to hydraulics are easily avoided.
The system is controlled via the machine tool using either Mazak’s SmoothX or SmoothG CNC, which are equipped with Mazak’s SMOOTH MPP software application.
Smooth MPP facilitates advanced scheduling functions, faster analysis of production results and more efficient system utilisation. Via the touchscreen CNC interface, operators can quickly ascertain the status of both the pallet loader and machine tool, as well production schedule. Realtime analysis is also available, detailing the machining and set-up time. If connected to a network, production data can be accessed both on screen by the operator, and remotely on PCs, tablets and smart phones.
For those manufacturers keen to embrace Industry 4.0 and drive greater connectivity between their production operations, the unrivalled level of real-time data analysis provided by SMOOTH MPP can translate into tangible productivity benefits, such as reduced non-cutting time and lower indirect labour expenses.
Ultimately, Mazak’s MPP range offers a compact yet highly functional automated pallet loading system to meet the evolving need of the modern manufacturer.
For more information on the MPP series, and Mazak’s wider automation offering, please visit: www.mazakeu.co.uk/machines-technology/by-product/automation/