Robots at Work!
Partnering with packaging machines makers to create smarter solutions – how Omron helped find a solution.
Packaging machines makers to create smarter solutions
There are problems and there are solutions. When packaging machine manufacturers want to increase profitability, Omron can help with a complete range of services and products designed to increase the machine’s speed, versatility, performance and safety.
The conundrum at the shop floor
Looking at the demanding lowdown from one of their steadiest customers had certainly made the project manager of ACG Engineering (ACGE) – one of the country’s leading machine makers of advanced packaging machinery for food and pharmaceutical sectors – little anxious. He was concerned for not only on the way ahead to meet the challenging requirements but also for the stringent timelines stated by the customer to meet the factory acceptance test deadlines slated to be held at an overseas location.
To start with, the customer wanted to achieve high speeds to transfer flow wrapped pouches from the main conveyor to the carton conveyor while both the conveyors are in continuous motion. A Pneumatic Gantry as a solution looked like a tried and tested option, however, having been thoroughly conversant with the same, he knew very well that these advanced results which the customer intends to achieve cannot be efficiently met via utilising conventional solutions and it’s time to change the tack.
Moreover, the customer was extremely keen for a highly user friendly and low maintenance solution which had added another dimension that needed due attention while curating the whole solution.
Robotics – yay or nay?
Jotting the milestones to be met, the project manager summed up the requirement to his team as follows: The application needs a high turnover, high speed, safer interface with lowest manual intervention, which is not possible to achieve via regular systems.
“Would Robotics be the right step ahead?”
“We have not dabbled much in robotics so it’s an unknown territory...”
“The odds of the customer finding the advanced robotics application costlier are high and will the solution comply with the factory acceptance tests in such a short duration?”
– the team kept deliberating on these perplexing thoughts.
Omron pitches in...
These situations filled with doubts and apprehensions are common for almost all packaging machine makers when they start exploring the world of robotics or any other advanced automation application.
However, most of the doubts take a back seat and are mitigated when there is a capable end-to-end solutions provider in the picture who takes complete ownership from the stage of curating the proof of concept to the concluding stage of functionality.
This is what Team Omron did when they understood the requirement. Having experience in enabling varied OEMs in the food and pharma sector for their high and mid-end automation needs, the Omron application and the OEMs mechanical teams joined hands to create a Robot based solution.
Considering speed as one of the prime and critical requirements, the OEM was shown a complete overarching perspective to perceive and understand that the robot based solution will be far superior to a gantry solution not only in terms of achieving the speed but also for ease of change-over, safety, smooth set-up and installation, and above all – ease of calibration. It took around thirty minutes for the team to fit the robot, calibrate and run it which is next to impossible to achieve with a traditional servo based gantry system.
The plug-n-play solution turned out to be ‘a customer’s delight’ and helped ACG Pampac to live up to all the expectations meted out by the customer for the key performance indicators as well as the factory acceptance test.
Here is a look at the technical side of the story:
Targets to be achieved
• Pouches have to be kept in two SKUs: 120 picks and place per minute parallel to the input and with right angle to the input from the current output of 40-50 flow wraps per minute
• A completely maintenance free solution, and
• Flexible and not fixed solution.
The solution: OMRON Adept Robots e-cobra 600 Pro
• Ethernet capability lending convenience and ease to control the robot through the familiar programming language (IEC 61131-3) of Machine Automation Controller NJ/NX/NY Series
• High repeatability suitable for material handling and precision assembly and a high payload for screw-driving tools
• The amplifier and controller built into the robot reduce the number of cables, and
• Has a reach of 600 mm; maximum payload 5.5 kg and weighs 41 kg.
• Ready for the factory acceptance test in record time: By achieving all the listed KPIs, Omron proved the overall performance of the system within the stipulated time and helped the customer to make it pass the factory acceptance test in just half a day – something that had never before been experienced by the OEM.
• Ease of installation: The installation time and complexities at the plant floor and at the customer site which were also some of the major concerns of the customer were deftly taken care by Omron owing to the ease of setting up of the solution.
• Value addition in conveyor tracking and machine vision capabilities: The solution also rendered complete ease in conveyor-tracking and was ready for machine vision capabilities to be added in the future.
• Matching the desired global standards: The machine, destined to be installed at one of the overseas locations, was able to live up to all the desired parameters at the end-customer’s plant majorly owing to the reliability and wide and robust global support provided by Omron.
The story highlights the constraints and reasons for reluctance for the acceptance of robots in the packaging machinery industry. The makers need to ensure safety in the labour intensive jobs without compromising on the speed and other key indicators and they are looking for complete end-to-end automation solution providers who bring in the right levels of technical expertise to help the makers gain know-how and confidence of dealing with such advanced solutions throughout the whole journey of implementing and maintaining the solution. ACG has certainly gained this confidence and is all set to explore more avenues in the field of robotics.
The coming years will see the sector evolve in a much more comprehensive manner and Omron is happy to be a part of this industry enabling the makers to climb up the value chain in an efficient manner.
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