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A CASE STUDY: ADVANCED VISION-GUIDED WORKCELL

For this coffee roaster, the robot moving bags from pallets to the conveyor was a weak link. It often ripped bags, spewing beans on the floor. Plus, it relied on older technologies, using feel and memory to locate the next bag. This highly inefficient robot was costing the company 100,000 pounds of lost beans every year. Plant managers called on Concept to upgrade the system, making it more efficient, safer and more profitable.

the-pointPROJECT DETAILS

Project duration: 6 months

Team
Client: 1 engineer
Concept Systems: 3 engineers

Concept Systems’ time on site: 20 day

The problem

The coffee roaster’s robot was supposed to unload pallets of 150-pound burlap bags full of raw beans and then place the bags one-by-one on a conveyor leading to the roaster. The robot picked up the bags with a pair of plier-like grippers, which were susceptible to tearing bags resulting in spilled the beans. Additionally, the robot was not able to accurately determine the orientation of bags on the pallets, which slowed the unloading process.

The solution

A new end effector with 16 points of contact was designed for the robot, using pneumatically operated tines to pick up the bag, eliminating tearing. A control system incorporates an advanced 3D vision system with advanced PC software to model the precise position and orientation of each tier of bags on the pallet. The camera image is transmitted to the robot in coordinates allowing the robot to go directly to the next bag and pick it up.

The results

The infeed bottleneck was removed, improving efficiency and safety. Now the robot can handle six bags per minute, twice as fast as the previous robot. This new infeed system also planned for future plant efficiencies, as it is capable of unloading beans faster than the current operation can process them.

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