Simplimatic Designs De-traying Robotic System to Handle Fragile Glass Vials

Customers across the globe turn to Simplimatic Automation, a leader in material handling and automation equipment, for custom manufacturing solutions designed to simplify even the most challenging production needs.

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Customers across the globe turn to Simplimatic Automation, a leader in material handling and automation equipment, for custom manufacturing solutions designed to simplify even the most challenging production needs. Simplimatic’s most recent automation project updated a global healthcare company’s manual tray unloading processes with two FANUC robot production cells.
The customer contacted Simplimatic seeking to completely automate their product stacking and storing process to expedite manufacturing and ensure reliable handling of their products. The Simplimatic team immediately began designing and creating two custom robotic and automation cells which work together seamlessly with the company’s current high-speed inspection machine.
The first cell uses a FANUC M-710iC to pick trays of fragile glass vials from a pallet and safely loads the goods onto mat-top conveyor to enter an inspection line. Each pallet of vials must be carefully handled throughout the loading process, as each tray is valued at almost 10,000 dollars.
“Each step of this process is a delicate balance,” Klaus Wisskirchen, Simplimatic Senior Controls Engineer, said. “We’re working to program this strong, fast robot to delicately choose and pick up unstable, very sensitive vials. It’s a large task but we’re very excited with the outcome.”
The cell is surrounded by a large safety fence with two doors to allow for empty and full pallets to enter and be placed next to the robot for unloading. The multi-axis robot, equipped with FANUC iRVision, two ultrasonic sensors, and custom end-of-arm tooling, then separates and grips the trays.
The tray is then carried by the robot to a custom de-traying unit (DTU) which features an in-feed table and tray trolley. The robot places the tray carefully and the trolley immediately locates the tray, sliding it down to the opposite end of the table. From there the DTU utilizes a sharp shelf which slides into the tray through a small opening and glides under the products without causing them to fall. De-traying the products and placing each fragile item onto an attached conveyor is one fluid motion by the rising shelf.
“Previously the de-traying process was a mixture of automated and manual steps which was a taxing job for employees because of the items’ unstable shape and the tray’s weight,” Wisskirchen said. “It is a delicate process but for our extremely precise FANUC robot and custom equipment the task is not an issue at all. The entire procedure is now controlled by the push of a button.”
After de-traying, the empty tray is removed by the robot and is re-palletized. As the robot palletizes the empty tray, a second full tray is already waiting to be unloaded to ensure maximum efficiency and throughput.
“It’s almost like our systems are performing an intricate dance, gliding around and placing items carefully before moving seamlessly out of the way for the next step of production to continue,” Wisskirchen said.

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