It is designed to feed workpieces and machine pallets automatically into and out of either one or a pair of the company's 3- and 5-axis machining centres. The resulting production cells are so easy to use that they may be operated by semi-skilled staff. Sole sales and service agent for the UK, Irish, and Gulf markets is Kingsbury.

Occupying a compact area of just 12 square metres, the new RS1 robotic unit (www.hermle.de/en/machining_centres/rs_1_robot_system) is capable of minimally attended operation, 24/7, delivering high and flexible productivity.

In addition to performing its loading and unloading duties, the 6-axis robot automatically exchanges handling devices for pallets and fixtures as well as grippers for raw billets and finished components. Pallets accommodating large, heavy workpieces weighing up to 60 kg may be transported or individual workpieces up to 15kg.

A modifiable rack storage concept accommodates pallets, workpieces, fixtures and the interchangeable end effectors for the robot. The standard two rack modules may be extended with a third, while automated guided vehicles and other expansion solutions such as measuring and cleaning modules may be incorporated.

For cells comprising two Hermle machines, a third-party control system with graphical user interface from SOFLEX (www.soflex.de/index.php/en) is employed to plan and organise order processing, control workpiece flow, oversee resource provision (tools, NC data, fixtures, etc.) and transmit the necessary production information to the machine tools.

For single-machine cells, a Hermle Automation Control System (HACS) with integrated touch panel provides intelligent order processing as well as intuitive operation and control.

An ergonomic set-up station with rotary table enables components to be fixtured or unloaded quickly while the cell is in operation, reducing downtime and maximising plant productivity. The automation unit is positioned in such a manner as to provide free access by the operator to the working area of the machine.

Models in the Hermle range that may be automated using the RS1 are the C 12, C 22, C 32, C 42, C 250 and C 400. Dissimilar machines may be chosen for a two-machine cell.