The addition of a machine-tending robot system from CNC Robotics has allowed a manufacturer of specialist optical equipment to triple production from its latest Mazak Integrex machine. The system, which is based around a KUKA robot, was expected to pay for itself in three months but has repaid the investment in half that time.

It has proved so successful that the company has ordered a second system for a new Okuma Multus machine that is soon due for delivery.

robotic case studies - machine tending robot
machine tending robot


The customer is a leader in specialist optics equipment, producing its own range of devices from its site near Leeds, as well as supplying components to many of the world’s leading optics companies. In both areas, the company has established a reputation for high precision and quality. All the equipment made for its own brand comes with a lifetime warranty, a key part of maintaining the company’s reputation for premium products.


The Mazak Integrex was acquired for a new contract for one of the company’s largest customers.  In order to achieve the required precision, a machine was needed that could generate all of the critical features and surfaces in one set-up, and complete the part in one operation. The multi-tasking capabilities of the Integrex made it one of only a few machines capable of meeting these demands.

All went smoothly until the customer tripled its order volume and asked for the new production level to be reached within one month. The company’s management started to look at ways to automate the production, including the possible use of a Cobot to load and unload the Integrex. One of their tooling suppliers, who also provides tooling for CNC Robotics, suggested that they should contact the robot specialists.

machine tending robot


The company approached Jason Barker, founder and Chief Technical Officer at CNC Robotics, and was soon convinced that he was very knowledgeable about robots and machining. They were also impressed with his can-do attitude and his determination to make the system work successfully no matter what.

The resulting package from CNC Robotics included the machine tending robot, its enclosure and a purpose-designed fixture to load and remove the parts.  The cost of a Cobot was not that much cheaper than the robot system. The robot seemed to be faster and much more robust, an important factor as none of the company’s staff had any previous experience in operating this type of equipment.

As well as finding the staff from CNC Robotics easy to deal with, the customer was impressed with the speed of the installation. Having completed the testing on a Friday afternoon, the new system was left to run over that night. By the end of the weekend, more than 300 components had been produced, all to the high standards expected for optical equipment.


Overall, the machine tending robot has allowed a tripling of the production from the Integrex. The company works nine and a half hour shifts, expecting each machine to work for around eight of those hours. With the robot, production can be maintained for up to twenty-four hours a day and across the weekends.

The increased production prompted two more investments for the machine. Firstly, a higher-capacity swarf conveyor was needed to remove all the excess material that was being produced and then a swarf compactor was added to compress the chips down to a more manageable volume when the machine was running over the weekend.

By removing the need to have its machine operators constantly loading and unloading the Integrex, the company has been able to increase their range of skills, both by teaching them to use a wider range of machines and by adding new abilities like CADCAM programming. The extra time has been used to put more emphasis on process control, so allowing general efficiency to be improved and potential problems to be anticipated and resolved more effectively.

machine tending robot