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Robopal for the automotive industry

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

During the conversion of our

clients' plant to start the production of a new car, some changes to their automatic warehouse where nessecary. One of these changes was a system where a robot loads Small Charge Carries, also known as KLT's, into the automatic warehouse.

The main challenges in this installation were handling a range of KLT's, and because of this also different stacking patterns. We wanted to accomplish this by using the same gripper so there would be no valuable time lost dring changeover between the different types of KLT's.

The solution was to make a universal KLT gripper, and programming it to be smart enough to detect the type of KLT and the stacking patterns that are used. We are proud to say that our team of mechanical design and automation engineers were up to this challenge and invented the following end-of-arm tool.

Installation walktrough - pallet conveying system

A forklift operator places the pallets in the drop-off zone onto the first chain conveyor and confirmed by the operator. Whe

n the start conditions are met, the installation will begin automatically.

The pallet will be transported by the chain and roll conveyors and aligned to the de-stacking position. The robot will first scan the stacking pattern and start unloading the pallet, placing the boxes onto the in-feed of the automatic warehouse.

When the pallet is completely empty, it will be transported to a pallet stacker. This pallet stacker will collect the pallets until a full stack of 10 pallets is achieved. This stack of pallets

will be transported by the chain conveyors to the last position, where it can be removed by a forklift operator.

Installation highlight - the end-of-arm tool

The end-of-arm tool is designed to pick up a KLT independent of it's size, and also indepenent from which stacking pattern this KLT is positioned on the pallet.

By gripping the KLT at 3 points on 2 different sidewalls, the complete stacking pattern can be finished without changing the configuration of the end-of-arm tool.

We equipped the robot with crash protection, this protection will ensure that when a crash occurs it will be automatically detected and minimize damage to both the product and the end-of arm tool. => to vage, can be more technical

(Keeping in mind the flexibility the automative industry needs, an automatic change module whas provided. This will allow for future additions to the robot to maintain a flexible system.)

To make the installation easy to maintain and to increase lifetime of the cables, a LEONI cable package has been chosen for this installation. This custom-designed package with the necessary fixing points and strain relief will reduce the wear and tear on the cables.

Installation highlight - Detecting of stacking patterns and the type of KLT

The detection of the different stacking patterns was solved by scanning the top layer of a full pallet from 4 directions. The raised edges of the KLT's are counted and their position is tracked. After this scan, the positions of the raised edges are compared with the known stacking-patterns. When a pattern is matched, the robot will unload the pallet onto the in-feed of the automatic warehouse.

pattern recognition
scanner mounted on the gripper, used for pattern recognition

Increasing the efficiency of the installation

Next to loading the automatic wharehouse, our robot also stacks certain KLTs back on a trolley. This trolley is specially designed to integrate the KLT's in production. The fixation of this unit was done in a specifically designed clamping station, so that the zero reference of the unit was always in the same place.

Installation highlight - Central control location of drives

In the automotive industry it is important that a technician can remotely derive sufficient information to solve any malfunction in a very efficient way. By centralizing all drives on an island, where all decentralized IO is located, it is easy for this technician to locate the fault and to be able to solve it quickly. Always keeping possible downtime to an absolute minimum

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