Integrated end-of-line robots

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The expertise of two players and long-standing partners improved the end-of-line productivity of a palletizing system operating in the UK plant of an important multinational company

Comau, consolidated partner of the Vicenza-based Euroimpianti, parent company of Skilled Group, supplied two robots for the palletization of products arriving from several processing lines, thus contributing to increase the plant productivity of an English multinational food-processing company.

A complex updating process

Thanks to an accurate upgrade, Euroimpianti achieved in rationalizing and increasing the efficiency of an existing automated line by introducing two palletizing robots from Comau, in charge of selecting and loading different types of products arriving from the production department. “We have been building these end-of-line systems for many years, for the American and European facilities of this multinational company; in this case the request arising from the customer has been more difficult than the previous ones,” explains Patrizio Trecco, technical director and co-owner of Euroimpianti. The production facilities of this Customer are in an old factory in the centre of Manchester (UK), where a production plant is running on four different levels, all of them connected by a conveying system. Firstly, the client wished to increase the number of automated processing lines and, at the same time, to rationalize the line’s work cycle. With the integration of two Comau PAL 180 robots in the end-of-line system, we created two palletization workstations, which can rationalize and increase the efficiency of the entire production line”.

To this purpose, initially Euroimpianti had to implement the existing lines, as required by the client, and, and at the same time had to identify the most effective system to increase its global efficiency. In the factory’s underground area, two Comau PAL 180 robots have been installed, which take the boxes arriving from the fourth level and place them onto the pallets. Then the pallets are transferred to the automatic wrapping station, and after that, to the storage area. A simple however very precise and intelligent process, points out Patrizio Trecco: “The conveying systems transport to the working area of each Comau robot the boxes that have to be loaded on the pallets; then the programmed robots pick them up with special pliers designed internally, under the control of sensors that provide for their correct positioning. The Comau PAL 180 robots then place the boxes on the relevant pallets nearby; both, in fact, are programmed for delivering precise operation, according to the type of product to be handled and the pallet to be loaded. The robots arrange one layer of boxes on each pallet, introducing a card-board inter-leaf between each layer: this to protect the boxes during transport, and providing for a more stable load.” Besides its logistics organization, this line is characterized by the parallel management of different types of product, which have to be conveyed at different speeds, according to the type of good. After accurate tests, Euroimpianti decided that it would be more productive to concentrate the palletization on the simultaneous operation of two articulated robots, suitable for handling the selection and loading of six different boxes by means of a special tool ensuring an agile double gripping operation. The results in terms of quality and productivity are outstanding: “Before the integration, these operations were performed by hand, were slower and more difficult”, ends the technical director. “The Comau PAL 180 robots can deal with several products simultaneously,  and automatically handle all the goods arriving from different lines. So we have been capable of optimizing the palletizing process and rationalizing the entire production process”.

A high-speed and performing robot

Comau supplies the robots’ mechanics, which, for many years now, Euroimpianti has been using for developing integrated “customized” applications. In particular, the Comau PAL 180 robot is ideal for the end-of-line handling required for this plant in the UK, thanks to its technical specifications, its reach, footprint and wrist payload; without forgetting its excellent price-quality ratio. The PAL 180 -3.1 series of machines includes fast and robust articulated robots specifically designed for palletizing, handling and high-speed operations. They are 4-axis robots with a maximum wrist payload of 180 kg, and an additional forearm payload of 25 kg, suitable for addressing special tasks easily. In confirmation of their versatile range of action and their high precision, PAL 180 robots have a maximum horizontal reach of 3100 mm and can guarantee a repeatability of 0.10 mm. They can also be mounted on the ceiling or on the floor, in order to make operations easier in accordance with the available workspace.

The companies

Euroimpianti, founded in 1973 by Gastone Trecco, present managing director, is the parent company of Skilled Group. The company is one of the main manufacturers of automated end-of-line systems: a successful industrial player thanks to its capacity for innovation, and always ready to face new technological and market challenges.

Comau, company of the FCA Group, is world leader in the development of disruptive innovations for industrial automation, integrating products, technologies and services, in order to assist firms of all sizes to boost the productivity of their lines, while reducing operational costs. Comau, with management centre in Turin, has 40 years experience in this sector, and has created an international network of 34 operative centres, 15 facilities and 5 innovation centres, in 17 different countries, with more than 9000 employees. Comau’s competencies in the industrial sector include: body assembly, powertrains, general automation, robotics, consultancy for industrial process optimization. The company can offer customers consulting services in every step: from the design to the carrying out of the plants, including maintenance and a wide range of products. Focused on innovation, the company is committed to the development of new competencies through several training programs that are complementary to the company’s approach to industrial automation that Comau intends to render more user-friendly and increasingly available.

 

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