True Precision Machining is a full-service machine shop in Buellton, Calif. that serves the engineering and machining needs of customers in the medical, aerospace and communications industries. After implementing a Productive Robotics OB7 cobot on its wire EDM machine, True Precision was able to double machine output and meet deadlines early.
True Precision Machining promises quality control, quick turnaround time and innovative solutions to meet their customers’ challenges and requirements. However, even with its skilled team, it was challenging to meet certain deadlines. Producing parts fast enough on its wire EDM machine is just one example of this challenge.
“We typically run two shifts per day for five days, totaling 80 production hours per week,” explained Marvin Rodriguez, Vice President of True Precision Machining. “A 500-part job would take at least a week to finish working at that pace—and that’s not accounting for downtime or breaks. To stay competitive and meet our customers’ high demands, we need to be faster than that.”
Rodriguez recognized the existing production schedule took advantage of only 80 of the 168 hours in a week. What if True Precision could operate at a higher capacity, taking advantage of all available hours, unhindered by machine downtime?
During its extensive research of cobots, True Precision discovered the OB7 cobot at a trade show and taught it a task on the spot.
“We were impressed by the no-programming user interface and how simple it was to teach the cobot tasks,” said Rodriguez. “This would be a solution that we could develop on our own without hiring outside integration.”
True Precision was also drawn to OB7’s seven axes, which provide added flexibility and the ability to work in confined spaces.
“We saw how well OB7’s 7th axis worked during the CNC demo, and we wanted that in our shop,” Rodriguez shared.
Case Study at a Glance
|Company: True Precision Machining
|Location: Buellton, California
|Challenge: keeping up with growing demand
|Partner: Productive Robotics
|Robot: OB7 cobot
|Task: machine tending
|Results: doubled machine output, met deadlines early
Rodriguez said the 7th axis is an especially desirable feature for machine shops because it allows operators to place the OB7 cobot to the side of a machine door, rather than directly in front of it. The OB7 can reach around into the machine, freeing up space for machine operators to work.
It was clear the OB7 is a teachable robot and one with the flexibility to fit the physical needs of True Precision’s shop. And it allows the company to expand its hours of production through working “lights out,” or around-the-clock, even when employees are not at the facility.
Results with OB7 cobot
Now on the road to faster production, it was time to install the OB7 cobot for the Alpha Wire EDM machine. With its skilled staff, True Precision set up the automation work cell on its own.
“We did not have any prior experience with cobots, but we were able to create the necessary tooling and configure our environment to work with OB7,” said Todd Ackert, President of True Preicsion Machining.
After the few days spent planning the work cell, the team turned to assembling the OB7 and had it up and running in a matter of hours.
“OB7’s user interface made the process simple,” added Rodriguez. “We physically moved the robot control handle to introduce a task and customized our waypoints on the tablet interface for more precision.”
The 500-part job on the wire EDM machine was soon working 200% faster and could continue to operate round-the-clock.
“We finished a job in one 3.5 days that would have taken a week to complete,” said Rodriguez. “Working lights out with OB7 allows us to go home and return the next morning with a job completed, ready to start the next. OB7 has saved us significant time and money, while increasing quality and precision.”
True Precision also recognized the valuable and reassuring role Productive Robotics’ dedicated support team.
“If we had a question, we called Productive Robotics’ support team,” said Ackert. “They would help us over the phone or come out to our facility.”
The OB7 cobot allowed True Precision to bring in more work, meet deadlines faster, and simultaneously allow workers to focus on other high value tasks. The success of OB7 was so immediate, simple, and effective, that looking forward, True Precision plans to implement OB7 on multiple other machines in its facility.
“Working with OB7 has been a highly rewarding experience,” emphasized Ackert. “And in the process, we learned to strategize more efficient, creative, and innovative methods for automating future jobs with collaborative robots.”