"Packing Power Pack" in AuD-Magazine
Robot-based automation is speeding up packaging processes. Fully synchronised comprehensive solutions are achieving excellent results in this regard. Now, the entire production process can be performed by a line of robots working in harmony.
Yaskawa’s Motoman product range includes conveyor belts and identification systems in addition to its various industrial robots. Everything is controlled by the same system, ensuring that all components work together in perfect harmony: from initial picking and packing through to end-of-line palletising.
Fourth axis for heavier loads
The new Delta robot, the Motoman MPP3, has for the first time enabled the uniform technical realisation of complete packaging lines using the manufacturer’s products. This new 4-axis, parallel kinematic robot combines the speed of the Delta model with a high payload and large working envelope. The fourth axis of this robot, known as the wrist axis, is significantly stronger than in comparable models, which enables the robot to handle payloads of 3 kg at a speed of 140 cycles per minute, or payloads of 1 kg at an impressive 230 cycles per minute.
To accommodate this, the conveyor belts run at a speed of 120 m/min. The robot achieves a total stroke of 500 mm and has a reach of 1300 mm in the upper cylindrical area. In the lower conical area, the reach is 950 mm. High availability was the primary focus in the development of this new robot. In order to achieve this, the robot has been given long-lasting wear parts that are also quick and easy to replace. On account of its high mechanical quality, low maintenance and minimal downtime, the robot offers around 95 per cent availability.
The MPP3 model displays its full performance capabilities when used in combination with the downstream packing robots: The MPP3 robot picks the first packaged product – for instance, a packet of gummi bears – with its vacuum gripper and, at high speed, places it in a box or tray packaging. The second step is performed by a downstream 5-axis Motoman MPK2. With its slimline gripper hand and a 400 mm-long Z-axis, it is ideally suited to placement into crates and deeper trays. At a payload of two kilograms, it does this at a speed of up to 133 cycles per minute.
The MOTOpick process management software is responsible for controlling this complex, high-speed process. It controls both the integrated image processing and the conveyor belt tracking, thereby ensuring that the correct product is placed in the correct location. The software also offers the system operator an interface with which to set up new formats quickly and easily.
Rapid product conveyance
The subsequent packaging of the appropriately pre-grouped components is, for instance, assumed by an MPK 50 robot: a 4-axis robot with a maximum payload of 50 kg and a working envelope that is almost rectangular. It is able to work at high speed and is therefore ideally suited to conveying the products quickly to the next stage. The subsequent palletising is assumed by the MPL model from the Motoman series. These 4-axis models handle payloads of between 80 and 800 kg, stacking the pallets to over three metres high. They also work at high speed and, on account of their large working envelope combined with their compact size, can be integrated within the system arrangement in a flexible manner.
Last but not least, robotic packaging lines offer significant advantages over conventional linear and gravity packing machines: they handle the products gently, are flexible to use and do not take up much space. As a result, it is possible to design more compact comprehensive solutions, which ultimately improves ROI because of the reduced space requirements.
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