Robots change their own tools
TLM packaging line cartonizes aerosol cans
In July 2014, a cosmetics company based in Germany commissioned a TLM packaging line from Schubert (gerhard-schubert.com). The function of this line is to cartonize aerosol cans. If the TLM robots require another set of tools for an upcoming size change, the tool change takes place fully automatically and behind closed safety doors. This function reduces the conversion time to just five minutes, thus increasing the effective output rate considerably.
Four TLM sub-machines integrate all the required functions for the manufacturer of shelf-ready cartons. The aerosol cans are fed in on one track. There are four TLM-F2 robots and one transmodule section. A robot erects the trays from flat-lying blanks and places them on the waiting transmodule. Another one picks up product patterns and loads them into the trays. The next robot glues a wrap-around blank over the tray as a lid. The fourth two-axis robot transfers the package to the discharge belt.
The tool change begins with selection of the corresponding programming at the control panel. On one side of the fourth sub-machine, there is an empty tool cabinet where the tools of the robots for the size change are placed. The opposite cabinet contains the tools required by the robots for the next size.
The process begins with all products and packaging of the previous format leaving the line. A TLM robot in the fourth sub-machine then outfits a transmodule with an adapter. In normal packaging mode, this robot transfers the packets to the discharge belt.
The transmodule moves to one of the TLM-F2 robots. The robot places its tool on the carrier and decouples it. The transmodule moves into the fourth sub-machine, where the robot places the tool on an extended "drawer" of the tool cabinet.
This procedure is repeated until all the robots have given up their tools. All robots are given new tools in a similar manner, one after another. The next packaging size can begin after 5 minutes. There are no difficulties in starting up, and perfect cartons are guaranteed from the beginning.
As with all components of TLM technology, the tool change system also has a modular design. This enables Schubert customers to order additional tool sets for new sizes at any time.
The line is currently processing individual 250 ml cans and containers with three 400 ml cans in shrink wrap. An additional product already considered during the planning phase is a 300 ml can. The three packing patterns of the shelf-ready cartons are 2 x 3, 2 x 5 and 2 x 3 containers. The output is 320 individual cans or 107 triple containers per minute.
Stats and facts on the Schubert tool change
- Each TLM robot arm carries a tool which can be exchanged if necessary. Power and data are not transferred via a plug-in connection, but rather inductively. This prevents contact issues and avoids wear. The tool features encoding which rules out assignment errors.
- The transmodule is a single-axis robot which transports cartons or products. For tool changes, it transports robot tools in and out.
- A tool cabinet is exactly the same size as a pallet and can be easily exchanged with a fork lift. Several tool sets can be made available to a line.