IDE Online Magazine Mayo 2017 - Page 121

Whereas up until now rigid conveyor belts dominated the scene, rail-based shuttle systems and multi-carrier systems are opening up new perspectives. The cups, boxes or panels move along on them from one processing station to the next without congestion and noise and thus enable an independent flow between the production machine and the packing line. In this way, with a packer connected in direct sequence splinted with a palletiser a compact line is created that enables the conversion over to new formats and formations at any time.

Robots implemented for food

The primary packing is the biggest challenge for the plant engineers. Here, the packing material meets the food at the highest possible speed. The aim is to unite clocked processing with a continual product flow – the robot is called for at the very latest here.

Special kinematics and robots are called for, which dispose of the necessary equipment with their force-torque sensors to carry out high-precision dynamical movements in all three spatial directions. The pregrouping of fish fingers or chocolates on the conveyor belt or directly packing items into folding boxes are their domains. They particularly demonstrate the principle and benefit of the modular concept. Equipped with 3D scanners and image processing software, the robots are able to locate the volumes, height and colour of the approaching products down to the very millimetre and grip them at the right moment. Top values of up to 200 picks per minute are not seldom in the case of the models presented at Anuga FoodTec.

Trimmed to Industry 4.0

The packing machines are not least assessed according to whether they are compatible with the Industry 4.0 concepts of tomorrow. In order to push the digitalisation, the engineers are working closely together with their colleagues from the automation industry. In this way, they create plants that are easier to operate and which are more readily accessible. The youngest generation of Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) picks up on the look & feel of smartphones. Thanks to the intuitive operation via a touch-sensitive surface, it is possible to input data and navigate using gestures.