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Robot-based packing station for cartons

Flexibility is the key

MOTOMAN HP20RD with special gripping tool implemented by RoboMAX (Source: RoboMAX)

Batch sizes of 20 to 2,000 and almost a dozen different dimensions: above all flexibility was called for in the design of a customized packing station for cartons. RoboMAX GmbH in Blumberg, Germany, implemented this requirement with a Yaskawa Motoman handling robot and a self-developed vacuum gripper.

The customized automation solutions of Blumberg/Germany-based RoboMAX GmbH are used in many industries and applications: in mechanical engineering and automotive parts supply, injection moulding and contract manufacturing. Since 2014 a custom-designed packaging cell for a manufacturer of cast resin fittings has supplemented the company’s list of references.


Complex requirements

Cellpack GmbH, a subsidiary of the Behr Bircher Cellpack (BBC) Group based in Villmergen (Switzerland), manufactures high quality cable connection systems in Waldshut-Tiengen (Germany). The cast resin fittings from German production are used, for example, in electrical installations. The plastic components provide mechanical protection for cables and junctions. Cellpack produces the required parts not only in the highest quality, but also finished to customer specifications. That means that the customer receives exactly the fittings he needs. This service requires that the individual product cartons are packed in a shipping carton exactly as specified in the respective order. The products are input directly from the production line. In particular, the order placed with RoboMAX called for automation of the last step prior to shipment.

The requirements and conditions were indeed demanding. About ten different packaging sizes with edge lengths of between 24 and 360 millimetres and weights ranging between 0.5 and 1.8 kilograms were to be processed. An effective automation system with a high degree of flexibility was called for. The solution provided by Cellpack was able to handle a wide range of batch sizes and mini-series.


Compact cell

The installation developed by RoboMAX is based on the AlphaMAX system. It is a flexible base unit that permits the use of a wide range of robot models. This enables the concept and design of the cell to be individually adapted for specific applications. In the case in hand the result consists of a compact packaging cell with a Yaskawa Motoman HP20RD handling robot.

The 6-axis high-speed robot features an extremely compact design, the highest degree of dynamism and outstanding precision. It can move a load of up to 20 kilograms with a horizontal range of more than two metres and a precision of +/- 0.06 millimetres. The dead weight of the manipulator is less than 300 kilograms. The flexible arm can easily reach into large cartons. Several Motoman models were already in use at the customer’s facility, so that it was possible to draw on experience made with familiar processes for the programming and control of the new installation.

RoboMAX also convinced the decision-makers at Cellpack with further plus points: a controllable roller shutter in the protective casing guaranteed safe and ready access to the cell. The controls are so simple and user-friendly that the assembly workers can quickly rectify problems themselves.

The installation is suitable for universal use. Two different carton sizes can be processed simultaneously in each cell. The product cartons are delivered to the cell from the production line via two belts. Here they are picked up by the robot and placed into the shipping carton. The latter is stacked on a euro pallet and carried away immediately after filling.

A key element of the solution is a universal vacuum gripper designed and manufactured by RoboMAX. It enables cartons of different sizes to be firmly gripped without the need for readjustment. The set-up time is also extremely short when it comes to the system control. On a touchscreen the operator selects the feed conveyor on which the new carton is arriving. He then selects the carton type and the target figures of the series. In addition to the series, the number of cartons on the euro pallet can also be specified. To complete the set-up process, the operator must only adjust the end position for depalletization.


First practical experience and conclusions

Following its first practical experience, Cellpack is fully satisfied with the RoboMAX packaging cell: “For us the acquisition of the robot cell means increased processing efficiency. It facilitates the work of the people in the assembly area,” summarizes the cast resin fittings manufacturer. It was primarily five arguments that swayed the decision in favour of the solution: the high degree of flexibility of the installation, compact dimensions, gripper system not requiring synchronization, short set-up times when changing carton sizes and ease of operation. The extremely compact design, high level of dynamism accompanied by exceptional accuracy and the option of ceiling mounting spoke in favour of Yaskawa’s Motoman HP20RD handling robot.