When it comes to automating a process in industrial automation, knowing where to start can be an arduous task. Numerous system integration organizations provide off the counter kits for particular applications.  

Things to Look out for in Robotic Machine Tending Automation 

Some factors, however, can hinder their functionality. These include the design of your applications, your desire to customize your own cell. Let’s discuss the things you need to look out for in robotic machine tending.  

Part Ordering: Classified or Mixed-up?

For an industrial robot to pick a raw part, localization should be provided to ensure the process is executed effectively. There are two fundamental methods of designing parts that require machining.  

·      Utilizing a Racking System 

For starters, a classified racking system can be utilized. If the parts are categorized in a specific manner allowing the robot to figure out where each part is; programming the part coordinates becomes an easy task.

Time and effort, however, should be invested in the designing of the racking system. Assuming the parts that need machining remain the same for a prolonged period, you wouldn’t need to consider flexibility.

However, if the product will change requiring classification of new parts, designing a universal racking system can be a difficult task.  

·       Use of Vision 

The second part ordering method involves the use of vision. Depending on the size of the parts that require machining, a bin, conveyor, or a drawer can be utilized to place the parts.

Seeing that the parts aren’t precisely located, a vision system should be used together with the robot program; the system will only need to take a photo to determine where the part is located.

In cases where the system should be dynamic, the vision system can be paired with an encoder on a conveyor. This will allow the robot to determine where the part is located 

Movement: Precision vs. Speed

What comes to mind at the mention of robotic machine tending is fast production. However, fast production could often translate into poor quality. The speed of the robot should be adjusted in every step.

Often, prehension operations are executed slowly through which the gripper can precisely pick the parts while applying the precise amount of pressure. Motions from outside the machine towards the machine vise can be applied with comparatively fast speed.

Inserting the part in the vise should be executed with caution. Doing it at a slow speed would be ideal to ensure the part falls in the right place. Inserting the part too fast, however, can result in miss-positioning.  

Prehension: End Effector Grip Force, Shape, and Payload 

Prehension is one of the most complex methods of the robotic machine tending process. It incorporates the option of a robot and an end effector. Users should identify the type of parts that can be handled in the cell with ease. Further users should establish whether or not the cell will only handle one product.

Will the production change? If yes how often? This will help you figure out the payload and grip force required. Will you require a rigid or flexible cell? You may want to utilize an advanced gripper if the production will remain the same for a long time.

If the production is likely to change regularly, then a flexible robot gripper will be ideal. Remember to check whether the gripper’s payload and grip force are applicable for your robotic machine tending.

You can opt for a double gripper to facilitate the fast exchange of parts in the machine. The number of setups also needs to be considered. If you have several setups for similar parts, you will need a robust gripper, capable of handling the same parts albeit with varying features.  


It’s becoming increasingly necessary for small and middle-sized enterprises to automate their functions. Are you looking to understand the key principles of robotic machine tending? This article should help you understand what would be ideal for your machine organization in an industrial automation situation. 

iLounge author Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.