PACE Zenith Awards 2014: Manufacturing Award sponsored by Siemens
WINNER: Machinery Automation & Robotics (MAR)
Project: MAR Automatic Plastic Bottle Palletising and Pallet Handling System
For a leading plastic and steel packaging company in Australia and New Zealand, VIP Packaging was clear that improvements to its manufacturing facility in Villawood, NSW was necessary to stay competitive in the market.
To be successful, the automated system must increase production capacity, eliminate occupational health and safety issues, decrease production cost and increase quality control.
From the robot and conveyor systems operations to the stretch wrapper infeed function and pallet removal sequence, VIP Packaging's automated robotic palletising process is initiated and controlled by a single operator.
The palletising system, which aims to automate the handling of the packaging products from the blow moulder outfeed to the pallet, comprises of three robotic palletising cells. These cells all share one pallet handling system.
The system includes a pallet dispenser, pallet strapper, stretch wrapper and pallet conveying system.
In order to prevent faulty bottles leaving the site, three vision systems check the bottles prior to the palletising process to detect: flashing within the handle, flashing around the neck and circularity of the neck opening.
These vision systems will automatically remove bottles found to be of suspect quality.
The cells stack the incoming bottles onto pallets supplied by the shuttle transport system. The system whilst palletising insert slip sheets between each layer of bottles and a cover board on top of each pallet.
Each fully loaded pallet is removed from the loading station to the 90-degree conveyor transfer, from where it travels along the main trunk line before exiting the cell through the muted safety light curtain.
The pallet then enters the pallet strapper wherein three plastic straps are placed around each pallet as it moves through the machine.
After being strapped, the pallet will continue to move to the stretchwrapper where it is wrapped prior to exiting the system for the pallet pick-off point. All completed pallets exit the stretchwrapper and are ready for removal by the forklift operator.
The integration of an automated system upgrade provides the perfect opportunity for any manufacturing company to ensure that personnel safety precautions are first rate.
With this in mind, MAR designed the safety system to work in zones. This is done to allow the line to keep palletising even when a person inside a part of the line away from other machinery.
In addition, the area within the cell has been maximised to ensure free access around the robot and conveyors is available for cleaning, maintenance and general operation.
MAR's fully automated solution for VIP's production line delivered a range of benefits including:
· Increased operation safety
· Increased process quality
· Increased process speed
· Increased work area management, less space and cleaner and more organised workplace
· Less maintenance, less spare parts, easy maintenance, preventive maintenance
· Overall decreasing cost of manufacturing