Automating a Workcell Robot


Thread Starter


Almost 2 years ago now, my company hired an integrator who was supposed to automate our CNC line (precision manufacturing plant) with a Fanuc robot. He was constantly late on deadlines and eventually we had to let him go. Unfortunately, due to our contract, we were left with the robot, tool carousel, and the PLC with everything hooked up. The integrator is also pretty upset at our company, so he is of no help at all.

Before this, I developed a way to dump inspection data from our Brown and Sharp CMM directly into both of our AGIE Charmille EDM's. Because of this, and my ability to problem solve and to get things done, my boss tasked me with completing the job! I have no prior experience with automation. I have a mechanical engineering degree and I took a few classes where I learned PLC programming using Alan Bradly RSLogix.

Where we are:

- Siemens S7-1500 PLC controlling the carousel (custom made)
- Fanuc Robot M-710iC/50 (as far as I know, it could load/unload the carousel)
- HMI on the PLC seems to be functioning

I am a complete newbie. I know PLC ladder logic quite well... and that's about it.

Can you guys recommend a path for me. I would like to get some training, but I'm not even sure what. As far as my training goes, my boss pretty much gave me a blank check. Any help you guys can provide would be beneficial


Bob Peterson

A lot depends on what it is you are planning to do. Some things are relatively simple and a person with little or no experience and training to handle it. Other things are more complex and might be more difficult and well beyond your abilities. Your best bet is to find a better integrator this time.

Bob Peterson

By the way, I don't want to entirely discourage you from trying to fix this yourself. Whether you should do so or not and how you go about doing so if you decide to take it on is dependent on a lot of unknown factors.

For instance, if all the equipment that is actually needed is already installed it is a lot easier. However just knowing if you have all the pieces requires a fair amount of experience. I have occasionally suggested that the difference between an "expert" and a "hack" is that an expert knows when he doesn't know, and a hack doesn't know enough to know when he doesn't know.

I will suggest this. There are a lot of so called control integrators out there who are basically clueless hacks. There are even some OEMs who are not much better. I have had to go fix work form hacks of both types. Sometimes hack OEMs and hack integrators team up to really mess up a project.

If it is just a matter of tweaking what is already there you likely have a better chance of success than if you have to gut most of what was done and start over. My experience with this sort of thing is that you will likely be better served by the gut and start over approach. However, that is not something I would suggest someone without any real training or experience try and do on his own.
Thank you for the reply, I appreciate your opinion.

I have no doubt that I can do this with enough time. Everything I did for this company so far, I had no prior experience. While this is the biggest project I did so far, I am confident that I can do this with the right training.

My question remains, where should I go for training?

Thanks again.

> My question remains, where should I go for training?

Back in the dark ages I worked for ComputerVision which made CADD/CAM and CNC systems. ComputerVision had all sorts of training programs. So, if it is the CNC system/robot you need to program, I suggest you find out about GE's training classes.

Good Luck,
Peg Ferraro, one of your friendly moderators