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Case Study: Automated Palletising for automotive manufacturer

Customer Requirement
An automated system to palletise brake disc castings at the end of the customer’s production line. A solution was required to handle more than five hundred different product variants, weighing 6kg-23kg, and stacked in one of six predetermined stacking patterns.

The Solution
Loop provided the solution in the form of an integrated robot cell, comprising of a custom flipping stage; Kuka robot with custom adjusting end effector; and two pallet bays for uninterrupted operation.

Flipping Station
The stacking patterns required that some of the discs be stacked on the pallet upside down. A flipping station was developed to ‘flip’ individual discs as they are required. Because of the variations in the product the whole assembly was mounted on a moving carriage that could be adjusted to suit the product dimensions.

End Effector
Sixteen electro-permanent magnets were arranged to pick the discs by contacting the swept surface between their top hat and outer edge. Due to the range of disc diameters required the magnets were mounted on worm drives allowing them to adjust automatically to the diameter of the product.

Robot
A Windows based Recipe Editor was supplied to allow the calculation and customisation of recipe data for each of the product variants, and to allow the customer to add additional product recipes to the system as and when they arose. By combing the recipe files and dynamically calibrating the system during operation, we were able to produce a system that can handle any of the product variants with the minimum amount of operator input. Plugins were integrated with the Kuka HMI to allow a single point of operation for the operator.

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