Rexam Pharma GmbH (London) manufactures containers and molded components for a number of industries, including those in the healthcare sector. Specific healthcare products include plastic containers, closures, and delivery systems for asthma inhalers, eyedroppers and nasal sprays.
Because of the production volumes involved, the company has a long history of using automated assembly, including robotics. These systems are often required to meet stringent clean room standards.
Recently, Rexam Pharma contracted system integrator and automation specialist Geiger Handling Systems AG (Schwarzenburg, Switzerland) to design, manufacture and install an automated line to produce plastic containers for use in the pharmaceutical industry.
The manufacturing process for the containers employs two parallel injection-molding machines and a pair of RX130 robots from Stäubli Corp. (Duncan, SC) equipped with customized vacuum grippers. Geiger chose to go with the Stäubli machines because of their precision and the fact that they are specifically designed for use in clean room applications.
The assembly of the molded parts involves joining the covers to the containers within the cycle time of the molding machines. For the initial pilot phase, two injection molding tools were used, each with four cavities. For the subsequent production, 32/64 impression molds were used. The short takeout time of 2 seconds for the removal of the containers and covers required optimizing the operating sequences of both the robots and vacuum gripper systems.
The robots remove all the molded parts in a single operation. The mold closes immediately upon removal of the parts, while the two robots transfer the molded parts to the center of the cell where the covers and containers are assembled. Upon completion of this task, one of the robots places the assembled containers onto a conveyor belt, which takes the containers to a class 1,000 clean room for further processing.
The grippers are lightweight and made of stainless steel. The presence of a part is checked and acknowledged by means of vacuum switches. The robots operate with such reliable consistency that the grippers enter and exit the mold at maximum speed.
The combination of robots, vacuum gripper systems, vacuum supply system and monitoring equipment ensures extremely reliable and precise handling of the parts, as well as a high level of technical availability, an indispensable requirement when manufacturing top quality plastic parts.
For more on robots and automation, visitwww.staubli.usor call 864-433-1980.