UR robots transform family business

CNC Trčka

In short

CNC Trčka is a Czech manufacturer of smaller CNC tooled machinery components for aerospace, medical, automotive and other industries. Utilizing older lathe machines was greatly improved with the UR5 robot, saving space and reducing costs and time required with outside programming.

The challenge

The company currently operates 20 CNC lathes and 6 mill cutting centers and needs to stay agile in managing variable manufacture-to-order projects.

“We have been automating production processes through robotic technologies for a while, says Michal Trčka, CTO at CNC Trčka. We started with traditional industrial robots, which needed external programming help. We selected a collaborative robot for particular applications because they don’t need as much space and safety caging. We were confident that using our experience and knowledge we could build a cobot production cell by ourselves.”

CNC Trčka

Industry Metal and Machining
Country Czech Republic
Number of Employees 25-50
Cobots used UR5
Watch how the company integrated a UR5 cobot with legacy CNC machines.

The solution

CNC Trčka searched for a cobot vendor and ultimately selected Universal Robots. The decision was made during a training session at UR offices in Prague, where their representatives were assured that they would be able to integrate the cobots without any external support.

UR cobots demonstrated that they do not need as much area and safety guarding compared with traditional robot cells. Another important aspect was that the company could easily integrate the cobots with their older machines in a much more flexible and easy way than using special loading robots integrated with tooling machines.

“As to the UR functionality itself, we were impressed by the simple application, a user-friendly interface, easy programming and immediate availability of the product enabling us to start the project whenever we wanted,” says Trčka.

After basic training at UR’s local office, the customer purchased its first UR5 and integrated it to a 30 year old tooling machine to insert raw material and remove it after a tooling process. Before, this process required non-stop supervision of an operator. Now, the new solution includes storage with 84 pieces of raw material, enough for 45 minutes of production. The operator only feeds the storage container, and checks for finished products, enabling him to supervise other CNC machines in the meantime.

A winning process

A winning process

Building the first application, including prototyping and integrating grippers and a stand, took about a month. Assembly itself and cobot programming took another week. The solution does not use PLC, just digital input and output of the cobot. After a tuning period and pilot production, the same layout will be applied to the other three machines on the shop floor.

We are doing business in a mixed production environment, where each order is unique requiring high production flexibility. On the other hand, an increasing customer demand is pushing us to increase productivity and deploy automation technologies. UR collaborative robots are the ideal solution enabling us to balance both requirements thanks to fast and flexible implementation, and intuitive control, freeing our staff from routine, manual work,


The benefits

Previously, the CNC machine was operated by a human worker, now the UR5 cobot loads raw material from the gravitational storage into the CNC lathe, controls the machine function and opens and closes doors. Thanks to easy and intuitive programming, the company staff was able to build the application including a pneumatic gripper control without any previous experience besides a basic two-day training. The UR5 is the first robotic device in the company that works without safety cages (after a safety evaluation), which lowers total costs on technology and increases flexibility and work safety.

The main benefit of the Universal Robots technology in CNC Trčka has been automation of machine tending processes that increases work productivity. The need for a number of operators has been reduced and the customer also standardized the production cycle. In the future, the company management plans on deployment of UR5 cobots onto other CNC machines that will intensify productivity and ROI.

UR5, CNC Trčka, Czech Republic
 UR5, CNC Trčka, Czech RepublicUR5, CNC Trčka, Czech Republic

Automation challenges solved:

  • Need to automate specific applications
  • Build a robotic cell with no external support
  • Freeing operations to higher value activities
  • Creating a pneumatic gripper
  • Integration with existing CNC machines
  • Application testing aimed to extend to three other CNC machines
  • ROI: 12 months

Key value drivers:

  • Automation of machine tending processes
  • Reduction of a number of operators needed in production
  • Productivity increase as operators can supervise more CNCs
  • Standardization of the production cycle
  • Easy and intuitive application programming - fast and without need of any external support
  • Faster total ROI

Tasks solved by collaborative robots:

  • CNC machine tending
  • Loading a raw material from the gravitational storage into a CNC lathe
  • CNC machine control
  • CNC machine doors control
  • Place the finished part into a box

Get in touch with Universal Robots

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- Increase productivity
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- Improve employee well-being and retention
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  • 27175 Haggerty Road, Suite 160
  • 48377 Novi, MI
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