Robotic Machine Tending with Vision System
When we talk about the best machine tool manufactures, Makino easily tops the list. With the brand new range of VMC (Vertical Machining Center) the “SLIM3” & HMC (Horizontal Machining Center) the “J3”, Makino’s Indian arm - Makino India Pvt Ltd approached DiFACTO to integrate a robot to demonstrate the automated loading and unloading capabilities of their machines at the renowned AutoExpo in 2008. The application was straightforward, but the challenging aspect was the integration of a Cognex vision system with the robot; as there was no locating pins for the component coming in from a gravity fed conveyor. The robot in order to pick the component needed accurate orientation, which was provided by the vision system. In addition, DiFACTO was given the responsibility of transforming this concept into reality which meant the entire design of the gripper, conveyor, pedestal, safety barriers etc. as well as robot and machine handshaking signals and the cell logic had to be completed.
DiFACTO Robotics and Automation Private Limited
Industrial automation solution
The following challenges were faced during the project execution.
The whole idea of doing away with jigs / locating pins was to demonstrate the capabilities of using a Cognex vision system with a robot. A camera would take the picture of the incoming component and send the orientation co-ordinates to the robot.
Robot Mounting constraints
As the cell was setup in an exhibition hall, the cell elements could not be anchored to the floor, as a result, maintaining a fixed relation in terms of distance between the robot & the cell elements was a challenge.
Robot Programming & Vision System Calibration
Programming the robot to accept the data sent by the vision system was quite challenging. Accurate calibration of the vision system was critical to obtain proper orientation co-ordinates for the robot.
The project execution started with the accurate modeling of the various cell elements including gripper, conveyor, pedestal etc. followed by creating a virtual cell in the simulation software. After a simulation study, an accurate Offline program was generated which was ready to be downloaded into a real controller.
DiFACTO’s Edge to the Customer
- With the aid of accurate modeling and use of powerful simulation softwares, the quality of the offline program achieved was commendable.
- The customer was able to see the working of the automated cell created in a virtual environment with the help of simulation softwares, giving a clear idea of the layout and thereby the space required for this display.
- Time spent on offline programming and simulation meant that very little time was used during actual exhibition site installation.
- Special engineering designs were implemented to keep the cell elements in place in relation with each other.
- The entire project co-ordination right from design to vendor follow-up as well as project execution was carried out by DiFACTO, giving the customer time to focus on other aspects of the project.
- DiFACTO was a one stop shop for all the automation needs for the customer.