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Pick-and-place system: KUKA robot positions tubes correctly

In order to automate office furniture production at Sedus Stoll AG further, Trafö Förderanlagen GmbH & Co. KG has developed a pick-and-place robot: a KR QUANTEC performs the automatic loading of the tube laser. This maximizes the efficiency of the production system.

Sedus Stoll AG has been producing high-quality office furniture since 1871. The company is known for the world’s first swivel chair with rotatable column-type spring suspension, the so-called “Federdreh” (loosely translated as the “sprung swivel”). In order to push ahead with the automation of the production facility, Trafö Förderanlagen GmbH & Co. KG designed a pick-and-place system with individually adapted software. The KUKA robot – a KR QUANTEC KR270 R2700 ultra – serves a linking function: it loads the tube laser fully automatically with materials from the warehouse, a task that was previously performed manually. When implementing this system, Trafö was able to benefit from its many years of experience as a provider of fully automated storage systems and logistics solutions.

The KR QUANTEC performs the automatic loading of the tube laser. (c) Fotoatelier Bernhard e.K.

Automated loading of the tube laser is perfectly tailored to the specific circumstances

“The special thing about the pick-and-place robot is that it supplies the laser with individual tubes,” says Ulrich Neckermann, Sales Manager for DACH at Trafö. “Manual loading is no longer necessary.” Trafö has developed special software for the system. This enables all components involved to communicate with one another. Digital production plans specify the types of tube with which the laser is to be loaded fully automatically. The material is ordered from the long material storage system via tablet. The storage system supplies the ordered tubes on system cassettes to the robotic cell via a conveyor system that leads from the warehouse to the robot and from there to the laser. The cassettes are open at the top and usually contain several different tube types. In order to ensure that objects are recognized, the robot is equipped with a 3D detection system.

Pick-and-place robot with integrated object recognition

The production plan specifies which tube is to be machined in the tube laser. Using these data, the robot scans the contents of the system cassette with the integrated 3D scanner. In this way, the requested tube is identified by means of object recognition. The robot is equipped with two vacuum grippers – one for round tubes and one for polygonal tubes. It selects the appropriate tool and takes the relevant tube from the cassette. In so doing, it adapts the angle of inclination of the gripper to the position of the tube. If pickup does not succeed immediately, the gripping operation is repeated. This ensures a reliable sequence, even if the tubes are lying diagonally or tilted. The robot grips the tube, lifts it and sets it down on the conveyor, which transports it to the locating fixture of the laser.

Object recognition with a 3D scanner enables reliable pickup of the tubes. (c) Fotoatelier Bernhard e.K.

Fully automated loading increases the cost-effectiveness of the production system

With the automated loading of the tube laser, it was possible to boost the cost-effectiveness of the production facility significantly. First of all, manual loading operations are dispensed with. And secondly, the precise and automatic material feeding enables maximum utilization of the laser. With the pick-and-place robot, the laser system can be tended in multiple-shift operation with a cycle time of less than one minute. The advantages are particularly noticeable in the case of frequent changes of material in everyday production.

The robotic cell makes work considerably easier and accelerates the production sequence. The laser system can now be used in unmanned multiple-shift operation.

Ulrich Neckermann, Sales Manager for DACH at Trafö Förderanlagen GmbH & Co. KG

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