Robots in action can be found everywhere. Robot Manufacturers give examples of robot applications in different industries.
Fanuc Robotics Europe - IFR Partner
Nine axes in one robot controller
Thermoforming/Vacuum Forming has helped grow the business for the Vitelo Group, based in Meulebeke - Belgium. To fulfil a contract for the John Deere Corporation, the company have installed a fully automated robot cell. The robot cell performs the Plasma Treatment and Bonding of the two part product. The cell comprises of an infeed and outfeed, along with a robot controlled manipulator for lifting and rotating of the product.
Kurt Goeminne, Maintenance Manager for the Vitalo Group says "The market demands ever larger products with even higher numbers of layers, for smaller sizes, we can create multi-layered products on the existing machines". Products still warm, are formed and pressed together using very high pressure, this is how a weld is created. However for the larger products, 3D forms of 329cm x 320cm, gluing is the only possibility. One off products will still produced by hand. The main benefit of the robot cell is improved quality, using the robot for both the plasma treatment and bonding gives the optimum result.
"With products of 270 x 220 centimetres, approximately eighteen meters glue needs to be dispensed onto the product" says Geert Haeve, the Process and technology Manager of machine builder and robot integrator Ninix Technologies. "But before the glue is dispensed onto the product, the surface where the glue is to be placed needs to be degreased using the plasma treatment. This is a process in which air is ionized, so that the impurities are removed and the correct surface condition is being created. We call this the product activation: the molecules are prepared for a good adhesion. Then the glue track must be just placed on the treated surface, and must then be cured under pressure for 30minutes - it is glued with a two-component system- and then another twenty-four hours in the warehouse.
The robot selected for this application is the FANUC Robotics M-710iC/20L unit. The robot provides a large working envelope and a payload of 20Kg, suitable to carry the dual function Plasma and Gluing guns. The compact design of the arm of the M-710iC/20L allows the robot to access holes of sixty centimetres deep within the product. The robot has been mounted inverted above the product, to provide the optimum access to all areas of the parts. The upper and lower parts of the product, positioned on a single fixture are transferred into and out of the robot cell, using a robot controlled servo driven shuttle system. Inside the robot cell a servo driven tilt system fitted with multiple vacuum cups, lifts the upper component and rotates it approximately 180 degrees to enable the robot to process the underside of the upper part. When the plasma and gluing operations are completed, the upper component is rotated and lowered back into place on the lower part. The robot controlled servo driven shuttle system, then transfers the processed part on the fixture, out of the robot cell. A total of nine axes are controlled by the FANUC Robot controller, 6 axes on the robot, 1 axis for the Part Transfer Shuttle, 1 axis for the Vertical Part lift, and 1 axis for the Part Rotate. By utilising the robot controller for all of the part movements within the cell, no other control devices were required; this provides the customer with a simplified control system, and a significant cost saving for the cell.
Programming the perfect robot path for gluing applications is easier said than done. In the first place both plasma and glue guns are very close to each other and during the processes you must be careful that they do not affect each other or the work piece. Also the harnesses are difficult to manage during the process. Haeve: "For robot cables there are many solutions to the problems of snagging or twisting, but this is not the case for the seven meter long hoses for plasma and glue. They are much stiffer, and some, at first sight superfluous movements, are really needed to prevent twisting. This remains a matter of trial and error and the continuous optimization of the movement. There are simply no simulation programs that deal with these complexities."
Safety? Did this cause any problems? "Not really, of course first we needed to consider where we had to place guarding panels, and then where to position light cutains. The shuttle that transfers parts into the cell needs to have access into the cell. This shuttle is actually more dangerous than the robot, because it moves out of the robot cell; because of this we provided safety sensor pads to protect the operators. The FANUC robot makes slow movements and is equipped with FANUC's DCS (Dual Check Safety), which provides secure defined areas. If the robot should ever enter those areas, it goes immediately into an emergency stop condition. The M-710iC/20L is also equipped with a High Sensitivity Collision Detection system, and the collision detect sensitivity can be set to the required level. The robot and the operating system have been designed to provide the optimum solution for the process, and operator safety.