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Assembly in Action: Pneumatic Systems Speed Up Palletizer

June 1, 2003
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When paper manufacturer Australian Paper needed to speed up its automated boxed paper palletizing system, Robotic Automation stepped in to help. The line included a pneumatic valve system from Norgren and robotics from Motoman.

When paper manufacturer Australian Paper (Mount Waverly, Australia) needed to speed up its automated boxed paper palletizing system, Robotic Automation (Silverwater, Australia) stepped in to help. Robotic Automation is a supplier of robotic systems used in automated production lines. Its challenge was to replace Australian Paper’s struggling system with a fully automated system that could handle two high-speed production lines. Robotic Automation chose Norgren’s (Littleton, CO) Fieldbus II pneumatic valve systems and rodless cylinders, and developed a production line that is now substantially quicker than before.

The size and spread of the plant made the Fieldbus II system an obvious choice for control. A major feature of the Fieldbus II system is that a distributed system can comprise up to 64 solenoid valves and outputs, and 64 inputs from a single interchangeable Fieldbus node. For this project, the chosen protocol was Profibus.

The automated system consists of three Motoman Inc. (West Carrollton, OH) UP130 handling robots and conveyors for the boxed paper on two lines. The end effectors on the palletizing robots are specially designed sliding fork and twin grippers. These grippers can pick up multiple boxes, yet they can place each one independently when required. This speeds throughput, increases flexibility and enables odd pattern stacks to be quickly palletized.

Norgren’s Lintra rodless cylinders are a key part of the system. They have the benefit of actuation within the overall length of the cylinder. They can also have the carriage anchored to allow actuation of the cylinder body. This provides a particularly neat solution for many applications where compact containment is needed. Robotic Automation took advantage of this when specifying the rodless cylinders to transport fully loaded pallets to the out-feed conveyors.

Power to the grippers is applied by Norgren ISO/VDMA profile cylinders. These cylinders feature magnetic pistons and flush-mounted magnetic limit sensors for control feedback. In addition, the stops and turntables on each in-feed conveyor are powered by pneumatic cylinders.

“Once the equipment was on site, it was a matter of simply reconnecting terminals, which saved us days of time on installation and commissioning,” says Steve Barker, project manager.

Further benefits are high reliability, improved and remote fault-finding and reduced downtime resulting from low maintenance and upkeep needs.

Norgren and Robotic Automation are currently developing a similar system where the chosen protocol is Devicenet. Due to the interchangeable node feature of Fieldbus II, Norgren can use a common design structure and implement a new system with a simple single change.

For more information on robotic applications, call 61-02-9748-3788 or visit www.matcol.com.au.

For more information on pneumatic valve systems, call 303-798-5545 or visit www.usa.norgren.com.

For more information on robotic systems, call 937-847-6200 or visit www.motoman.com.

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