For two years now KHS’ InnoDry Block has provided beverage producers with a packaging and palletizing system that manages without guides on the pack conveyor. This is made possible by two special features: firstly, a flexible buffer behind the packaging machine that constantly adjusts its capacity to match the number of packs in circulation. Secondly, an optical sensor detects any misaligned packs on the conveyor without railings and sends this information to the robots which then adapt their gripping position accordingly. Without having to accumulate the packs, the robots then form these into precise layer patterns. This boosts pallet stability, ensuring that the packs arrive at the supermarket safe and sound.
Whereas to date each pack was aligned separately on the InnoDry Block, thanks to a new development by KHS’ palletizing experts in Worms the handling system can now also be used in the high-performance range. Pressureless container infeed without railings means that for the first time two or more packs can be handled and positioned simultaneously by the robot gripper arm. Christoph Wiesenack, palletizing product manager, describes the essential prerequisite here. “We’ve installed four extra, smooth conveyor belts in succession, each around 30 centimeters long, at the end of the main conveyors between the rubberized mat-top chain and grouping table. Their speed is controlled separately on the basis of information provided by an optical sensor. The camera works in all lighting conditions and with a full range of optical properties, colors or materials specific to the packaging or container. 3D information is generated which a pre-programmed algorithm converts into a control pulse. This accelerates or decelerates the packs, depending on what the robot system needs to complete its task. The packs are then either pushed closer together or pulled apart. In this way they’re conveyed at a perfect distance to one another and the robot can access them as the production process requires at that particular moment.”