Robots reach for the chocolates

Photo | Cama Group
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Above: They melt on your tongue, and not on the grippers. Delta robots pack sweets without leaving a trace.

Photo | Cama Group

Here three robots work together efficiently.
Photo: Cama Group

November 2011

 

The Cama Group adds value to its packaging line with multi-robot operation in a single machine. Rexroth drive and control technology guarantees an efficient, reliable and easily expandable production process.

 
 

If you buy chocolate bars, you want to have chocolate bars – tasty, glossy and in one piece. That means the packaging process has to run smoothly without leaving a trace. And this is exactly what “Triaflex” Delta robots ensure. Extremely precise, with speeds of up to 120 cycles a minute, they can grasp objects without interrupting the product flow. “Speed and flexibility are what counts on the market,” says Daniele Bellante, managing director at the Cama Group.

Bellante knows the market like the back of his hand. The Cama Group, established by his father and headquartered in Lecco, Italy, has been producing machines and completely robotized systems for the outer packaging industry for over 30 years. The machines take care of all the handling operations needed to put packaged products in their outer cartons.

Fast, careful and flexible

The latest system for packing chocolate bars is a loading unit that can integrate up to four Delta robots. Each is responsible for its own section of the line and carefully picks up the chocolate bars, lying scattered on the belt, placing them in the compartments of an outer pack on a second transfer belt. This belt transports the product to the next station where it is placed in the carton. With its “Multi-Picks” gripper system the delta robot is able to pick up several chocolate bars at the same time. Each of the three robots can place up to 300 products a minute. This permits belt speeds exceeding 110 meters per minute since the robots move synchronous to the belt, and thus synchronous to the product, during the gripping process.

This also makes possible technically complex operations such as transferring individual chocolate bars in their outer packs to another packaging machine. “The new loading unit with three integrated Delta robots lets us attain the speed desired by the end customer – while also reducing the amount of space required,” emphasizes Bellante.

One set of controls for every need

An intelligent system for visual identification detects every single chocolate bar and transmits its position and orientation on the belt to the IndraMotion MLC, the motion logic control from Rexroth’s range of IndraMotion automation solutions for packaging applications. The robots unerringly pick up the sweets from the belt and position them correctly in the pack. In contrast to conventional control for each individual robot, a single Motion Logic unit makes for optimum coordination between all the robots in the new system. Communication interfaces to avoid collisions are no longer necessary.

“We also save a considerable amount of space, compared to a solution with Delta robots connected in series, each with its own control cabinet,” adds Bellante. The numbers speak for themselves. The required installation space was reduced by fifty percent and the control cabinet is forty percent smaller. Thanks to the IndraDrive M modular drive system with dual axis controllers, moreover, cabling costs have been cut by forty percent.

The IndraMotion MLC also off ers major features as far as computing capacity, scalability and modular design are concerned. It can control as many as sixteen kinematics, all at the same time, each with a maximum of eight interpolating axes and controlling up to four belts, including belt synchronization. Furthermore, packaging manufacturers can easily and quickly implement their own kinematic chains. Camera systems are easy to integrate and programming is possible via RCL (Robot Control Language) or IEC 61131 functional robotic modules.

The standardized IndraWorks engineering software simplifies project planning, parameterization, programming, visualization and diagnosis of all Rexroth components. This is a wide array of advantages – something Bellante, too, is more than aware of. “The Triaflex delta robot significantly simplifies all the product handling in a secondary packaging system. Thanks to Rexroth’s Motion Control solution, we have attained the flexibility demanded by the market,” says the Cama Managing Director.