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Robotics Case Studies

Robotic Part Transfer Between Asynchronous Processes

Belcan Engineering Automation Group

Client Overview:

Belcan was contracted by its client to design and build an innovative manufacturing system for a new energy storage product line. The new system would automatically  coat and dry electrodes for a new battery technology.

Challenges:

A critical part of the new process involved transferring newly coated electrodes from a slurry reservoir to a drying oven.

  • Both systems used continuous motion chain conveyors to transport the electrodes though the respective processes
  • The selected material handling system  had to synchronize with both conveyor systems when transferring product from the reservoir to the drying oven
  • Product position on the incoming reservoir chain conveyor had to be tracked
  • Timing had to be precise and repeatable to ensure the next part on the continuous moving conveyor could be removed in time
  • The coated parts were fragile when wet – requiring a gentle transfer motion profile

Belcan Solution:

Belcan conducted a requirements study for the application to identify the critical performance criteria. Several competing concepts were developed. Ultimately it was determined to use a Staubli 6 axis robot solution with conveyor tracking capabilities. A simulation model was generated to verify the cycle rate and motion profiles. Encoders were designed into both conveyor systems to permit precise, repeatable conveyor and part tracking.

  • Robot matches reservoir conveyor velocity
  • Robot is synchronized to part entering pick up “window”
  • Part is removed from conveyor to a clear position, rotated 90 degrees and moved to drying conveyor drop off position
  • Robot matches velocity of drying oven conveyor and lowers part onto chain conveyor
  • Robot makes high speed move to reservoir conveyor to pick up next incoming part carrier

Results & Benefits:

  • By employing a robust requirements definition phase the Belcan team was able to efficiently identify plausible technical concepts for consideration
  • The robot based solution was efficient and cost effective, requiring minimal mechanical infrastructure and hardware
  • Overall elegant solution to a difficult problem – transferring parts between two non-synchronized processes reduced overall floor space requirements and system complexity

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