Robotic Packaging of Lipstick Containers Decreases Downtime
GOAL: Decrease downtime and increase productivity on a packaging line.
CHALLENGE: Pick small diameter tubes (in this case, lipstick containers) from a conveyor and place them in cardboard cartons, which lacked consistent dimensions. The cycle time requirement was 60 pieces per minute.
SOLUTION: Introduce packaging/ palletizing automation in the production line. A robot was chosen as the central component of the handling system, because the cycle time requirements were within a robot’s capability and it provided flexibility for future product changes. The robot chosen was the SONY SRX-611. It is extremely reliable, fast and simple to program. For this particular application, it is capable of handling 90 pieces per minute, and of being programmed to accommodate various product sizes. A custom gripper assembly was designed to handle 4 pieces at a time. While accommodating a variety of sizes and shapes, gripper materials were chosen to insure no damage to the parts would occur. A rotating table moves boxes into and out of the work cell, allowing the operator to safely load and unload the boxes. Due to the various carton dimensions, in order to compensate, a template was designed to create carton uniformity. Different templates also match with the various product sizes and with different product/pallet robot programs.
OPERATION: The system unloads the lipstick cases 4 at a time, from the output conveyor of the assembly. The robot loads a box at station 3. While the robot is doing this, an operator unloads a full box, builds an empty box, places a template in it and loads it on to the indexing table. Once the box is loaded the operator hits two palm buttons indicating that it is ok to index. When the robot is ready it indexes the table. Light curtains and a plexiglass safety enclosure insures that the table index takes place safely.
RESULT: One position was eliminated on each three shifts, and the system runs 24 hours, 6 days a week. Productivity has increased and the system has been accepted as the new standard.
BENEFITS: Use of the robot was cost effective compared to fixed automation solutions, while providing flexibility for future product changes. Installation and debug times are minimized utilizing the robot. Productivity improvements and lower product costs. Operators were removed from a source of repetitive motion injuries.