Robotics Case Studies
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Palletizing Two Different Product Lines with MOTOMAN MPL160
by Nino LaDuca, General Manager
Shape Process Automation (formerly Tech-Con Automation) Posted 05/17/2012
Mississauga, Ontario manufacturer saves space by palletizing two different lines with one robotic palletizing cell.
Our client is a producer of margarine. They package two (2) different sizes of margarine containers into cartons, which in turn need to be palletized and stretch-wrapped before being loaded onto trucks for distribution.
Tech-Con Automation studied the client’s needs and designed a compact robot cell using a MOTOMAN MLP160 palletizing robot integrated with Allen-Bradley CompactLogix PLC to produce a dual-line station that met the client’s space and productivity needs.
- Multiple carton sizes to handle both bulk and prepackaged product, simultaneously palletized from two (2) separate in-feed lines.
- Automatically feed pallet and cartons to pallet loading locations. There were only forklift operators available for supplying and taking away pallets. No dedicated operators where available to manually feed pallets into the system.
- Right-Sizing the Cell: We analyzed the cell requirements and determined that one robot could keep both lines running at the appropriate through-put.
- Programming flexibility: As a result of having different sized cartons, our team developed different stacking configurations in order to fit each line’s carton into the appropriate pallet, in the most efficient manner.
- Designing the End-Of-Arm tool with combined mechanical and vacuum suction cups: We found that we could pick up both the heavy cartons as well as the light corrugated divider slip sheets with vacuumtechnology, and included mechanical clamping to provide stability during case transfer at high speed.
- Utilizing Zero Back-Pressure incoming conveyors: By utilizing zero back-pressure CDLRs on the incoming cartons, we could buffer incoming boxes without the need to maintain large buffer areas while ensuring the boxes were not damaged.
- Adding a dual automatic pallet de-stacker with pallet feed conveyor: Using a dual pallet de-stacker allowed the client to use a forklift operator to place a stack of pallets into the de-stacker magazine for each of the two different sized pallets and then go off to do other duties.
- Adding a single pallet shrink-wrapper: By adding a single pallet shrink-wrapper on a single out-going conveyor, we reduced the cost of duplicate wrappers, while reducing floor space needs.
- Increased Safety and eliminated ergonomic issues: Moving from a manual operation to the robotic operation reduced injuries due to palletizing issues, and eliminated repetitive strain problems affecting the operation.
- Minimizing floor-space needs: Recognizing that floor space is at a premium, our team was able to reduce the foot-print by combining the incoming lines into one.
- Reducing the overall cost of the cell by combining lines: Going forward, the client only needs to maintain one robot and tool, significantly saving on the production bottom-line, making them more competitive and gaining more orders.