Festo: Handling cycles of 670 milliseconds

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The high-speed H-gantries and T-gantries from Festo are 30 per cent faster than conventional handling systems. They herald a new age in handling technology, combining the dynamic response of a linear motor handling system with the costs of a toothed belt handling solution – which is precisely what is needed for the fast transfer of workpieces, for example.

These two handling systems represent real alternatives to expensive and complex robot systems such as robots with delta kinematics and SCARAs. Festo delivers the systems directly to the machine, ready to install and adapted to all required machine interfaces.

High-speed T-gantry

The high-speed T-gantry can easily achieve cycle times of 670 milliseconds. It is a high-speed pick & place unit with a higher dynamic response than a conventional linear gantry and can be scaled to any stroke. For instance, it can thus keep up with the cycle times required in the form-fill-seal process. At the end of this process, the high-speed T-gantry distributes the heat-sealed packages to boxes.

The gantry has a speed of 4 m/s and achieves acceleration rates of 50 m/s² over the entire working area thanks to a clever design that connects both toothed belt axes to the cross member with a single rotating toothed belt around the drive shaft. The belt is driven by two servo motors EMMS. An added benefit is the fact that the motors do not need to be moved within the X/Y area with its two degrees of freedom. Reduced mass and two servo drives, which are mounted parallel to each other, facilitate fast, dynamic motion and result in less wear.


Pitch slide module

The pitch slide module does away with the need for in-house developments that compensate for differing grid dimensions when positioning parts from one tray to another. The multiple gripping feature of the pitch slide module means that more parts can be gripped, spread and inserted in the blisters or workpiece holders in the same unit of time. The pitch slide module is used wherever several parts need to be repositioned at once and the spacing between the products needs to be changed during the process.


High-speed H-gantry

The 3D/planar surface gantry distributes small workpieces to boxes for example. It covers a rectangular working area that is significantly larger than that of robot systems with delta kinematics, which can only work in round or kidney-shaped areas. Other disadvantages of many delta robots are the high costs, the installation weight of approx. 150 kg and the large installation footprint.

The high-speed H-gantry, on the other hand, can be scaled to any stroke, has a very low profile, a low centre of gravity and a simpler frame than high-speed delta robots. Its optimised acceleration and braking characteristics enable strokes of two metres and one metre along the X- and Y-axes, with an accuracy of 0.2 mm.


The rotary/lifting module of the high-speed H-gantry is ingenious too. It consists of a hollow shaft with integrated energy through-feed for the front-end module and forms the Z-axis to which the gripper unit is attached. The rotary/lifting module accelerates to a speed of 1.5 m/s at a rate of 20 m/s². Vacuum and mechanical grippers with workpiece loads ranging from zero to two kilograms can thus be operated.

Robotics for system solutions

Festo developed both of these high-speed handling systems as complete packages consisting of a controller and mechanical components for fast transfer and positioning, as well as for dynamic handling and assembly operations with workpiece loads ranging from zero to three kilograms.

The handling system is based on the robotic controller CMXR. It combines mechanical systems as well as electric drive and control technology to form a complete kinematic system solution and coordinates highly dynamic motion in 3D space. The robotic controller CMXR interpolates and positions all the axes that can trace contours on a centre line. Contour switching points can be set and used for accurate activation of process equipment.

The CMXR also acts as an interface to master controllers on the one hand and to the motor controllers of the servo axes and the valve terminals on the other. And that’s not all. The controller also supports the integration of vision systems such as the intelligent Compact Vision System SBO..-Q from Festo. Applications involving moving objects can also be realised with the help of the vision system and the available conveyor systems.

Easy subsystem integration

Festo delivers the ready-to-install system solution directly to the machine, fully assembled and tested. All pertinent engineering data and circuit diagrams are also supplied, together with a comprehensive operating and fixed-price guarantee. Customers in the packaging technology sector receive not only hardware in the form of a ready-to-install subsystem, but also a complete value creation package. Complete solutions reduce the workload for technical staff, keep engineering expenses to a minimum, simplify the procurement process and reduce process costs.

[info] www.festo.com [/info]


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