Yaskawa Motoman robot packages and palletizes luminaires at Trilux - The robot calls the tune
At PKM Packaging GmbH, Pirmasens/Germany, a workforce of almost 60 employees is engaged in the development, design and construction of sophisticated, individual packaging machines and systems. Its customers include companies from a wide variety of industries, e.g. consumer goods, electronics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and medical technology. The fully automatic machines from PKM are used in primary, secondary and tertiary packaging.
The repertoire of final packaging ranges from folding boxes to blister packs, canisters, pouches and cartridges including palletizing and the ready-for-sale placement of packaged goods in displays or cardboard boxes. It can also handle the professional positioning and palletizing of items such as toothbrushes, sealing rings or chocolates. For Trilux, one of the leading German manufacturers of luminaires, PKM recently constructed a packaging facility that has proved to be a real multi-talent. The core element of the plant is a Yaskawa Motoman MH180-120 that ensures that all luminaires are quickly packaged and palletized with utmost precision.
Slim design and seven axes
At Trilux the focus is placed on state-of-the-art technology – and that also applies to packaging, where a number of reasons spoke in favour of a robotics solution. The products that are packaged and stacked on a pallet are relatively unstable and thus difficult to transport. For this reason, a skid carton is used to stabilize the stacked luminaires. Lifting the bulky luminaires into the 800 mm high skid carton and stacking them accurately for shipping was difficult and arduous work for the employees. Now this task is performed by the Yaskawa robot – and that means less strain on the backs of the colleagues, who are now able to tend to other chores. The robot’s high level of path accuracy also ensures that the individual layers are always stacked with great precision.
“For us it was important to maintain a cycle time of 30 seconds for the new packaging system. Because the packaging robot had to execute different tasks in the system, a seventh axis was necessary, and limited space called for a robot with a slim design. At this point, most potential suppliers had to be eliminated. The satisfaction of these criteria, together with the familiar good service, tipped the scales in favour of PKM Packaging in conjunction with a Yaskawa robot,” reports Sebastian Trägner, Team Head of Manufacturing Engineering at Trilux.
We finally opted for a Motoman MH180-120 handling robot. It is ideally suited to handling, machine loading, processing and distribution applications, with a payload of 120 kg and a range of 3.058 mm. Its six axes and slim design enable it to move flexibly, e.g. when stacking layers on a pallet. To increase the radius of action, a Yaskawa track is used: the TSL 2000 is a servo-powered, high-performance track for floor mounting. It can accommodate a travel length of up to 24 m at a top speed of 1.8 m/s. In the system installed at Trilux, the TSL-2000 forms the seventh axis.
Simulation with MotoSim
Prior to the construction of the system, a simulation of the precise motion sequences was necessary. This was conducted by the Yaskawa contact partners, who used the MotoSim software for the purpose, in close cooperation with PKM. This not only guaranteed smooth operation in the realization phase. It also became clear that besides the packaging of the luminaires in the prescribed cycle time of 30 seconds, the robot was capable of assuming other tasks. Now it also inserts the installation instructions and closes safety doors. “The simulation by Yaskawa was a real help for us,” explains Peter Dreher, Sales and Project Manager at PKM. He continues: “At first we could also imagine the system being operated with two robots. However, MotoSim showed us that the Motoman MH180-120 with six axes and an additional seventh axis via the track was able to perform all the prescribed tasks and more on its own. It was thus possible to calculate in advance the safety zones, movements and everything else that needed to be taken into consideration.”
The packaging system is designed for the packaging of two different luminaire types, either singly or in groups of four. Other sizes are also possible. The system can simultaneously package either one or four luminaires of each type in one cardboard box. A feeder belt conveys the luminaire(s) to the machine to be packed. Meanwhile the robot gripper, equipped in this system with a suction hand, removes an unfolded carton blank from an unsorted pallet and sets it on the centering station. Here the cardboard box is positioned with millimetre accuracy.
The gripper then places the box on the folding tool, includes the installation instructions and finally inserts the luminaire. The box containing the luminaire is now lowered by the machine and folded. On its way to the closing station the box passes a glue nozzle, where it receives a coating of adhesive and is then sealed. As soon as nine boxes have been ready packed at the end of the conveyor belt, the robot moves on the track to the front and takes hold of the entire layer of nine pieces and stacks them with absolute precision in the skid carton.
The gripper hand was specially developed by PKM for this application. It operates with a suction mechanism that incorporates different vacuum circuits. Depending on which item the suction hand has to pick up, vacuum circuits are activated or deactivated. No dedicated operating personnel is required for the system. The supervisor can perform other duties nearby. “As a manufacturer of LED luminaires we place great emphasis on high-tech. That is also demonstrated in our production halls, and it’s why we decided on a technically sophisticated packaging solution that reflects the technology of the future: robotics. Since it was put into operation, the system has been running smoothly and absolutely reliably. All our expectations have been fulfilled,” Trägner concludes.
A versatile solution for packaging luminaires has been introduced at Trilux in Arnsberg in the form of a new system designed by PKM. The core element is a high-speed Motoman MH180-120 robot made by Yaskawa on a TSL 2000 floor-mounted track – likewise from Yaskawa. The movement capacity of the six-axis robot has thus been supplemented by a seventh axis. Bulky objects that human colleagues used to find difficult to manage are now deftly handled by the robot with millimetre accuracy and a cycle time of only 30 seconds.
YASKAWA Europe GmbH
Robotics Division, DE-Allershausen
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