Automation for better ergonomics in the workplace
Our new special machine straps and labelled packaged garage door operators and then stacks them on euro or US pallets. As these tasks were previously carried out manually, automation results in a faster and simpler process and protects the health of our workforce.
The robot grippers were developed and in part installed by us. For the integration into the overall system, we set out in search of a general contractor, and we found one in the HELDELE company. HELDELE planned, constructed and realised the plant in accordance with our requirements and finally created a special machine which makes resource-efficient production possible. This cooperation has already resulted in two complete systems.
The first station is the strapping unit: The workflow of the system begins after the operators have been packed in boxes. The employee adds all operator components and accessories to the box with the garage door operator and places the box on the infeed roller conveyor of the feed unit. A sensor at the end of the roller conveyor gives the robot release signal, and the KUKA robot reaches into the open box. Following this, the box is transported to the Strapex strapping unit, where it is automatically closed and strapped by a hold-down unit in the gripper. The robot then turns the box through 180 degrees, and the other side is also strapped.
A connection to the central computer is then established: The package is still in the robot gripper and is now transported to the cab label printer. The complete system is connected to our central computer, which means that a type plate with all desired information, for example with our logo, the serial number, technical data and a barcode, is automatically produced. To ensure more even distribution of the weight on the pallets, the packages are stacked facing in alternate directions. So that the labels are still only visible from the operating side, the label is affixed alternately on the left and right side of the box.
Depending on the requirements and the order, the employee can enter via the software whether the package is to be deposited in the storage position, on the euro pallet, the US pallet or, alternatively, in the intermediate storage position. The gripper opens on one side in order to deposit the box. This makes it possible to position the boxes very close together. In addition, the gripper compresses the row by pushing the previous boxes together before depositing a new one.
The special feature of the system is the safety enclosure. To save valuable space, a safety fence is only fitted on two sides. The other two, open sides are monitored by safety scanners. The two laser scanners are mounted on the ceiling and scan the open areas of the robot system, ensuring that the danger zone is continually monitored. The system is brought to an immediate standstill if a scanner detects an object or a movement inside the danger zone. This allows optimum use of the extra space gained when the system is not in use, without a fixed safety fence getting in the way. In addition, on the front end of each safety fence, there is a control point with Emergency Stop pushbutton, operating and acknowledgement button. This allows the operator to select various processes which stop the system, for example when changing the pallets manually when the maximum stacking height is reached.
The automation of this process removes the need for physically tiring activities, as one box filled with our operators weighs up to 18 kg. Manually strapping both sides of the box, turning the box, labelling it and stacking the end product up to a height of 1.60 cm were strenuous tasks for our employees. We are happy to say that, thanks to our new system, those days are past.