The integration of a robot for palletizing at Media Print
The Media Print print shop had set itself the goal of transforming its operations and becoming the most modern print shop in Europe – the use of the latest technologies was to ensure competitiveness in the future.
Step 1: The three R’s: Research, ROI, Robotics
As part of the smart factory, Media Print decided to automate palletizing before shipping: Originally, one to two employees at four stations were busy packing and palletizing the packages. Since production volumes can get out of hand, especially around Christmas, the company wanted to automate palletizing and thus reduce the workload on employees. At the same time, the packages should also become traceable.
In consultation with Unchained Robotics as a partner, it was decided that five central components would be necessary to achieve these goals:
- Robot: Universal Robots UR10e – Due to its lightweight design, it has to meet lower safety requirements (but it is not used in a fully collaborative way) and thanks to its built-in sensor technology, it can also weigh and pass on the weight of the packages
- Gripper: A custom solution with external compressed air – To cope with the varying sizes and weights.
- Camera/scanner: O3D sensor and barcode scanner from IFM – enable height measurement and basic size measurement as well as tracking of packages
- IPC: Beckhoff IPC – compatible with robot and camera/scanner.
- Conveyor Belt: Already in place
Step 2: Develop a concept
Four factors were of particular importance in the development of the concept:
- The storage position alternates between pallets and mail carts. As a result, the spatial distribution varies greatly and the requirements for a flexible layout, as well as for flexible robot control, increase.
- The design of postal carts requires different motion sequences from the robot compared to the pallets.
- In order to be able to fully process the order volume of one day, the concept is designed for three positions that fully utilize the movement radius of the robot.
- The packing of the calendars also takes place manually, which is why there is also a manual transfer by the employees to the robot. Therefore, the robot should be able to handle different packages in unordered sequence.
An initial concept was tested in a simulation and adapted until the requirements were met. In addition, some tests were carried out on site at Media Print with the specially developed gripper.
Step 3: Manufacturing and programming
In this case, the robot was built directly in its future working environment, as the smart factory was still under construction at the time and Unchained Robotics could be given the space to implement the project on site.
For this project, Unchained Robotics custom-built the gripper to meet the process requirements. The pedestal is a standard component whose design allows it to be adjusted in height to suit the application. The software was also newly developed. The process – from establishing the initial requirements to full integration – was completed within two months.
Since the manufacturing in this case already took place on site, Media Print was also able to be directly involved in this phase and observe the progress of the manufacturing.
Step 4: The handover
Before handover, a two-week test was carried out with dummy packages to make final adjustments and corrections.
For the operation of the robot, an employee was also trained over the course of three days in the software and the use and maintenance of the robot.
The acceptance test was then carried out without any problems. After handing over the comprehensive documentation, Media Print had the CE certification of the system carried out externally.
Step 5: Operation and services
In close cooperation between Mediaprint and Unchained Robotics, work continues on applications and services that will deliver more flexibility and security for the use of robots.
For a more detailed look at this project and what the solution looks like, check out Media Print’s report: https://mediaprint.de/logistik-loesung-mit-unchained-robotics/
The automation of palletizing at Media Print as part of the smart factory was successfully completed within two months. The robot relieves the employees, who can now concentrate on packing the products – especially during the Christmas season. It also enables the packages to be tracked and the weight recorded.
You want to start automating your production now, too? Configure your solution now
Or do you want to learn more about how to perform a successful process integration? Download our whitepaper Process Integration: 5 Steps to Automation for free. Download