The UK plastics industry is the second largest employer in the country’s entire manufacturing sector — but it is troubled with a challenging skills shortage. Among the solutions to this issue is greater adoption of automation, but what should manufacturers specify when choosing robotic equipment? Shibaura Machine robot distributor, TM Robotics, is here to help.

Loading and unloading

One of the most lucrative areas for automation in plastics manufacturing is adding a robot to the injection moulding process. For loading and unloading, users traditionally opted for a Cartesian gantry-style robot, but today’s 6-axis and SCARA robots can prove more advantageous.

6-axis models, like the TM Robotics TVM series, can provide greater reach and flexibility for loading and unloading. The largest, the TVM1500, provides a maximum reach of 1,715mm, the TVM1200 can reach up to 1,418mm and the smallest model, the TVM900, provides a maximum reach of up to 1124mm. With impressive cycle times and high levels of accuracy, this robot can achieve loading and unloading far quicker than a manual process.

Moreover, the robot can automate applications downstream of the mould machine, including everything from inspection, handling and assembly. What’s more, when combined with a vision system, this system can enable automated bin-picking without the need to program CAD data, further optimising processes and reducing the need for human intervention.

Robot options

Before taking the plunge and purchasing a robot, it is crucial to consider the impact the equipment will have on your factory floor. Shibaura Machine robots — both 6-axis and SCARA models — are available ceiling mounted to save on that scarce factory floor space.

Another consideration is the compatibility of your robot and injection moulding machine. TM Robotics is the premium distribution partner for Shibaura Machine industrial robots globally, and is the UK and Irish arm of Shibaura Machine injection moulding Europe. You can find more information on TM Robotics’ stock of new SXIII electric injection moulding equipment here.

The future of plastics

Statistics from UK Manufacturing state that just over half (54 per cent) of businesses believe automation has a positive impact on manufacturing plant employees. But with the skills shortage showing no signs of subsiding, the plastics industry must embrace automation to maintain production.


For a free consultation on robots for injection moulding applications, speak to the team at TM Robotics.