Security, safety, mobility and even a measure of autonomy are just some of the areas in which automation is moving forward.
“The part could be placed by the robot in a gaging fixture for checking one or two important dimensions,” Lucier said. “Or even a coordinate measuring machine or complex vision system or laser micrometer.”
Liebherr Automation Systems North America (Saline, MI) recently introduced a new solution for random bin picking that can handle metals as well as nonmetallic materials and organics, making it suitable for any kind of industry or machine shop, and a rotary pallet handler capable of lights-out operation.
“Traditionally, we have delivered a lot of automation to the automotive industry for making powertrain parts,” said Peter Wiedemann, president of Liebherr Automation Systems North America.
Recently, though, the production line integrator introduced automation that’s smarter, more flexible and suitable for not just the auto industry but a wide variety of others.
To make that happen, the company combined a new vision system with its existing bin-picking solution. The new image recognition system uses a combination of cameras and laser imaging sensors. This captures reflective components more reliably and recognizes organic or semi-transparent materials as well as metal components, making applications outside of the metalworking industry feasible. For example, when combined with logistics software, the pick-and-place robot can be used for order fulfillment in a warehouse setting using a completely automated system that enables the end user to reduce overhead and increase efficiency.
The new vision system is continuously being improved. Its effective recognition rate has recently been reduced by more than five seconds, making it a more attractive solution for shorter cycle time production situations.
Its three bin picker robots can handle payloads of 0–5 kg, 5–20 kg, or 20–40 kg, from bins up to 1-m deep. In a factory, the robot can place parts on a machine, put them on a transport system, or deposit them in an organized storage bin.
The company has also simplified the machine’s PC-based software to make it easier to program changes.
But also on the “menu” from Liebherr is a linear pallet loading system that can automatically tend up to six machines and increase spindle time to more than 90%. Its Soflex PCS cell controller software calculates production times, monitors tool life, optimizes production schedules, analyzes throughput, and more, making it suitable for lights-out operations.
The rotary loading system is available in two models. The RLS 800 can transport parts up to 800 kg, with a height of up to 1100 mm (including the pallet) and a diameter of up to 800 mm. The RLS 1500 can transport parts up to 1500 kg, with a height of up to 1400 mm (including the pallet) and a diameter of up to 1300 mm.