KUKA packaging robots fold corrugated sheets for the packaging industry

Around three dozen KUKA robot systems support Tricor Packaging & Logistics AG in the automated assembly and folding process of industrial corrugated packaging. Thanks also to KUKA Customer Service, seamless execution is possible.

The scent of cardboard is in the air. It is a never-ending process of printing, stamping, folding and stapling. The production of corrugated board at Tricor Packaging & Logistics AG in the southern German city of Bad Wörishofen runs as precisely as Swiss clockwork. Heavy-duty corrugated boxes for the automotive, chemical and capital goods industries roll off the production line every second – and right in the middle of it all are lots of assembly robots from KUKA.

 

A while back, this seamless execution was standing on the brink. The service provider commissioned to develop a special system was not able to complete the project. The company was at risk of not completing its system. “All at once, we needed the support of specialists,” remembers Lothar Heinzelmann, Engineering Projects Manager at Tricor.
The KR QUANTEC: responsible for handling specialized packaging.
The KUKA packaging robot picks up a corrugated sheet with its suction gripper.

KUKA Customer Service configures robot system for packaging

KUKA Customer Service proved to be the partner for the job. “After the first contact with KUKA , less than 24 hours later, a Customer Service employee was standing on our doorstep,” says Lothar Heinzelmann. The KUKA employee completed the basic configuration of the six KR QUANTEC assembly robots. First, the programs needed to be newly created since they were lost during the change of integrators. “After the programming was created, the most important task was to optimize the cycle times and sequencing,” states Wolfgang Wanka, Head of Application Programming at KUKA. Furthermore, KUKA provided support in the definition of safety zones and start-up of the system.

 

KUKA robot in action in the packaging industry

Precise handling of specialized packaging

With the fast support of KUKA Customer Service, the system was completed and Tricor was able to begin production as planned. Since then, KUKA KR QUANTEC robots, among others, are part of the team, supporting the packaging technology at all customer sites. The packaging robot is responsible for handling specialized packaging. The packaging consists of corrugated boxes developed by TRICOR that have an integrated automatic bottom allowing easy and quick assembly. The KUKA robot folds the bottom parts of the boxes and puts them together. For this purpose, it is equipped with a bendable vacuum gripper. Using the gripper, it folds the box bottoms precisely and feeds these to the next production process.

KUKA lightweight robot folds corrugated sheets

The most recent joint project between KUKA and Tricor is a sensitive KUKA LBR iiwa robot used for folding and stapling corrugated blanks. The corrugated sheets are fed to the lightweight robot’s workspace. The sensitive robot takes the corrugated blank with a gripper and folds it along the predetermined break line. In the next step, it positions the blank in a holder and folds a square shape. The robot feeds the folded piece of corrugated board to a stapling device. The folding robot subsequently places the stapled part on a setdown station.

Sensitive and precise: the KUKA LBR iiwa robot with a folded corrugated sheet.

Additional robot systems for packaging are planned

Tricor is highly satisfied with the results of the cooperation. The ‘first-aid response’ has developed into a long-standing partnership between both companies. “As a result of our service agreement, we remain in close contact and have already developed twelve further packaging systems together,” says Lothar Heinzelmann. The robots take over the folding of the corrugated sheets with a high degree of reliability in three-shift operation and relieve the employees of monotonous tasks.

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