Аn aging conventional palletizer in а factory for dry building materials was disrupting the manufacturing process. Increasingly frequent failures were causing long periods of unplanned downtime, stopping the production process. At the end of the day that resulted in lost revenue. The urgent maintenance and frequent repairs were also costing a lot of money and effort.
It was clear to our customer that this issue had to be resolved. He decided to replace the problematic palletizer with a palletizing robot. Choosing robotic palletizing over conventional palletizer has some key advantages:
Our fully automated robot palletizing line takes care of the whole process after packaging. It prepares for palletizing 25kg valve bags, palletizes them, and picks and places empty pallets and plastic sheets at the bottom of the pallet. Furthermore, our smart palletizing software Siviko Smart Pallet allows the end-user to create palletizing configurations without any programming skills.
The line uses a FANUC industrial robot, model FANUC M-710iC/70 which features a 6-axis, 70kg payload, and 2050mm reach. The multipurpose robot has a rigid arm, a small footprint, and the best payload and inertia in its category. It also has extremely high axis speeds.
In a good robot integration, the infrastructure around the robot taking care of the material and product flow is of key importance. In this project, we designed and manufactured the transport lines, buffers, and additional hardware servicing the product flow. There are mechanisms and transport lines that take up the full bag off the filling machine, press it to make it more rectangular, and transport it to the pick-up place.
The pallets are placed on a roller conveyor with three sections – one on which the palletizing is taking place, one buffer position, and one position from which the full pallets are being picked up and transported to the warehouse. Furthermore, there is a buffer for empty pallets and sensors that detect when new pallets are being loaded and restrict the robot’s movement in this area in order to avoid a collision. There is also a safety fence with locks and sensors that keep the operator safe.
A key part of this project was to create the multifunctional Siviko PBG-4 gripper. It has three integrated functions:
This smart gripper enabled us to automate the whole process by using the capacity of the industrial robot instead of installing additional hardware and manipulators. If this is suitable for the required cycle time, this approach is more cost-efficient and requires less maintenance.
The Siviko PBG-4 gripper has integrated sensors that make the system fast and smart. For example, when picking up an empty pallet, the robot knows exactly where the next pallet is located. Then the robot can move fast without risking a collision. Furthermore, the robot knows whether it has picked up a plastic sheet or not and automatically tries again if the pick-up was not successful.
The Siviko Smart Pallet software is at the heart of the control system of the line. The operators now can create and manage their own palletizing configurations and control each important aspect of the palletizing line.
The operator can create and edit the palletizing configuration by entering some key parameters:
Based on the input information, the software creates a palletizing configuration and commands the robot’s movements. Furthermore, it verifies the entered information and does not allow palletizing configurations that are physically impossible or dangerous. The operator can now easily, fast, and safely create or edit palletizing programs without specific programming skills.
The software also acts as a SCADA and HMI system giving an overview and control of the whole palletizing line, as well as alarming, historic data about productivity, etc. With the help of the Siviko Smart Pallet, robotic palletizing becomes much more flexible and easier to use.
The first time we showed the palletizing system to the public was at the biggest technology fair in Bulgaria – Machtech and Innotech in September 2021. People got really fascinated by the versatility of the gripper, the speed of the robot, and the ease of re-configuring the pallet configuration. As a result, we enjoyed one of the most visited booths.
A few months after the fair, FANUC published our video. It became one of the most watched videos on their channel for the last few months. Once again, we received a lot of praise from across the world for the smart way our palletizing line handles the task of palletizing a bag, picking and placing plastic sheets, and palletizing. One person even wrote us the following message:
“Anyone can provide a robot and the program – but not everyone can design a good gripper. I like the concept of the one robot picking placing pallets and Interface sheet and then stacking… good use of space.”
This is really nice feedback. And that is exactly what we want to achieve with our projects – to deliver maximum value with the equipment at hand. So, if you are looking for robotic palletizing for your factory or if you want to automate a process even more complex than that, give us a call or write a message. We will be happy to discuss the options.