Robotics Online - RIA - Robotic Industries Association
Case Studies

Automotive Filters Palletized in 950 Different Product/Case Configurations

by Sally Fairchild
Yaskawa Motoman

Challenges
Palletize filters in 950 different product/case configurations.

Handle a wide range of case sizes from 12"L x 8.1"W x 4.1"H up to a maximum size of 22"L x 16.5"W x 13.4"H, weighing 1-40 lbs. each.

Motoman Solution
Motoman provided two identical, highly flexible system solutions. Each system includes:

  • Motoman SP100 robot with MRC controller.

  • 48" robot riser.

  • Custom vacuum gripper, including pneumatics and electricals package, adjustable vacuum cup locations, part-present sensors, and digital vacuum gauges/vacuum sensors.

  • Slip sheet rack.

  • 16-ft over/under powered roller conveyor with elevator.

  • Customer-supplied 45-ft curved section of belt-driven roller conveyor (BDLR).

  • CAPE PACK ‘99’© palletizing software by CAPE Systems, Inc.

  • Motoman Visual PalletÆ software.

  • Integrated safety package, including 8.5-ft high wire fence, photo eyes, and three safety interlocked gates.

 

Tooling
Motoman designed and provided a custom multi-function vacuum gripper to handle various size boxes of product, as well as cardboard slip sheets.

The gripper uses eight vacuum cups that are adjustable in two directions to handle one or two cases at a time, depending on the product size. Almost all products are handled two at a time. Part-present sensors are included. The same sensors are also used to sense the height of the slip sheet stack in the slip sheet rack.

Vacuum grippers require only 40 cfm @ 90 psi of compressed air, and feature digital vacuum gauges/vacuum sensors.

 

Operations Sequence
Overview
A forklift operator loads individual empty pallets onto the infeed portion (lower level) of the space-saving over/under powered roller conveyor.

The workcell operator selects size of pallets and size of product boxes to be run using the CAPE Pack-99 software. CAPE automatically computes the best stacking pattern, based on the product size, pallet size, and certain specified design criteria.

The output of the CAPE calculations can be imported as a text file into Motoman’s Visual Pallet software.

Visual Pallet then incorporates this stacking pattern into an off-line robot program. The off-line program is then downloaded to the MRC robot controller using Motoman’s Visual Data Exchange (VDE) software.

It is also possible to download this software using Motoman’s Floppy Disk Emulator (FDE) or Visual Data Communication by Instruction (Visual DCI) software.

In most cases, the off-line program will not require touch-up. However, for this project, the off-line program required manual editing to touch up points and incorporate special criteria, such as making sure the labels on all boxes face outward on the pallet for easy product identification.

Palletizing Sequence
The Motoman SP100 robot normally picks up two cases of filters at a time and transfers them to the pallet in the programmed stacking pattern.

Asynchronous case placement capability allows the gripper to release one or two boxes either separately or together to place boxes in specific stacking patterns. This feature accommodates more complex interlocking stacking patterns, so parts fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

Next, the SP100 robot adds a slip sheet it picks up from the slip sheet rack, if required. When a pallet is full, it is automatically transferred via the outfeed portion of the over/under conveyor to the unloading station, where it is removed by forklift truck.

 

Project Results
Achieved all cycle time goals.

Estimated Return on Investment (ROI) approximately 18 months.

Automated Imaging Association Motion Control Association