APEX Automation and Robotics has worked closely with a plastic manufacturer to develop an automation solution for the packaging of polyethylene bottles produced by the company.
Packaging plastic bottles is a labour intensive operation that can be present some challenges for automation, such as:
- high production rates
- complex packing configurations; and
- light products that comes in all shapes and sizes.
The system designed by APEX Automation and Robotics comprises a 6-axis industrial robot that has been optimised to keep up with two blow moulding machines, which operate at a production rate of 3,000 bottles per hour.
It features a specially designed robot head that contains vacuum cups which are used to pick up a row of eight, nine or ten bottles at a time, then equally space them apart before placing them.
In the next cycle, the bottles are both spaced apart and rotated upside down before placing to maximise the utilisation of the pallet.
The robotic cell used in the system has category 4 light curtains and three safety zones to ensure that the robot is never interrupted when part of the cell needs operator intervention.
A PLC provides control for the overall system, interfacing with the robot controller and an operator display panel.