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Robotic controls double throughput

Concept Systems resolves coffee roaster infeed problems, doubles throughput with new robotic controls, 3D vision, and application-specific effectors.

coffee_robot_3D_modelBottlenecks can occur at every stage of the manufacturing process, limiting productivity and causing problems that increase production costs. Savvy production managers know that no matter what the process, and no matter what the current rate of production, there’s always a weakest link that can be improved to increase a factory’s contribution to the company’s bottom line. In this regard, the equipment that handles the infeed of raw materials is just as important as the machinery that does the processing. An advanced vision-guided robotic infeed system can double throughput compared to other methods. For example, a 3D vision system has helped a large coffee roasting plant increase its green bean infeed rate by 100%, while eliminating a safety and material waste problem that was costing the company 100,000 lb of lost beans per year.

The coffee roaster was having problems with a robot whose job was to unload pallets of 150-lb burlap bags containing raw beans and place the bags one-by-one on a conveyor ultimately feeding the roaster. The gripper on the end of the robot arm was pinching the bags awkwardly and causing them to tear, spewing coffee beans over the floor of the unloading area. The robot moved slowly and relied on “feel” and memory as it attempted to locate the next bag to move. As the plant is charged with processing some 650,000 bags of coffee beans per year, the cost of the robot’s errors in lost beans and lost productivity was mounting. Loose beans on the floor posed a safety concern. With these factors in mind, plant managers decided to upgrade the bean bag handling system, and enlisted the help of a system integrator with expertise in advance automation systems, including smart robotic workcells guided with machine vision systems. The control system used incorporates an advanced 3D vision system with high-end PC-based software to build a 3D model of the environment in which the infeed robot operates. Continue Reading →