An IVC-3D smart camera from SICK has been employed on a production line at a Chinese car manufacturing plant to assist the robot with efficient order picking at high speed. The 3D smart cameras from SICK can see flawlessly even in the third dimension and under dusty and low-contrast ambient conditions.
Chery Automobile in Anhui province is one of the largest car manufacturers in China with last year’s output alone numbering 700,000 vehicles in addition to an export market share of 40%.
Gaining international recognition and making full utilisation of its current annual capacity of 900,000 vehicles are two key goals driving Chery Automobile to adopt innovative technology from international suppliers and automate its production environment.
One specific instance involved the automatic removal of engine blocks and their singulation on a conveyor belt. The unfinished diecast aluminium housings are delivered on pallets in batches of 30 units each from the Chery power train foundry, which are then lifted manually by workers on to the conveyor system.
With each unit weighing up to 20kg, there were concerns about occupational safety, which resulted in Chery deciding to replace the manual order picking with robots.
A key challenge in automating the order picking involved the position of the cast parts on the pallet. With the parts located on top of or beside each other, tipped over or shifted, the robot could never encounter the same position for picking.
The robot’s arm was fitted with SICK’s IVC-3D smart camera to scan the engine block and transmit the coordinates to the robot system so that it could align accordingly and grip the items.
Due to its high measuring precision featuring integrated evaluation, the IVC-3D smart camera provides for smooth order picking at high speed with up to 5,000 profiles being evaluated per minute and the results sent directly to the robot as a gripping coordinate.
The solution was easily integrated into the production line by Jake Jin from SICK’s Chinese automotive team in close cooperation with Chery’s production engineer.
Following the implementation of SICK’s 3D camera, only the pallet needs to be deposited using a forklift with the robot taking care of the rest. This approach integrates machine assembly automatically into component logistics and optimises the overall process.