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Highlighting the potential of SCARA robots in packaging applications

11 October 2017

Mitsubishi Electric demonstrated, at PPMA 2017, how robotics on packaging lines can boost productivity, cut energy usage and reduce maintenance costs.

The RH-6FH SCARA robot was seen picking and placing ready meal trays from one conveyor line to another, simulating the transfer and sorting of trays from an outfeed lane after the film seal has been applied, or as part of a ‘pick and pack’ application after final packaging.

Mitsubishi Electric offers a comprehensive robot range catering for the full spectrum of packaging applications, from pick and place product insertion, to labelling, tracking and packing. These include the RV series of articulated arm robots offering six degrees of freedom, payloads from 2-70kg and up to 2050mm reach, the RH series SCARA robots offering four degrees of freedom, payloads from 3-20kg and up to 1000mm reach, as well as RD Series of Delta robots achieving cycle times of over 200 parts per minute.

“SCARA robots in particular can offer significant benefits throughout the packaging process,” comments Mitsubishi Electric robot product manager Barry Weller. “Of course there is the headline performance advantage in pick and pack applications when compared to manual picking off a conveyor but there can be benefits as well in terms of energy efficiency and maintenance.

“As an example, in a tracking application, an alternative automation solution might require the conveyor to continually stop/start to enable products to be picked. This has wear and tear implications on the conveyor system that can lead to increased maintenance. By contrast, with a SCARA robot, the conveyor belt is running continuously, minimising wear. The conveyor can actually run more slowly and yet still achieve increased productivity, further reducing running costs.”

A recent addition to the robot family is the RH-CH range. “Many applications don’t need the speed and performance of our higher level robots, nor the highest payload capabilities,” says Weller. “What they do need very often is an extended reach to place objects into larger sized boxes. That is where the new RH-CH series will be ideal.”

For machine builders and end-users who are balancing the idea of using a robot with a perceived price and complexity consideration, the demonstrations and application information on the stand aim to prove how accessible and affordable the technology really is. Frequently faster and more energy efficient than pneumatic pick and place systems, and simpler to implement than servo driven automation solutions. “We think machine builders will find that a robot is the answer, delivering increased flexibility, ease of programming and an easier build with reduced engineering time,” says Weller.

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