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Flexible filling system developed

25 July 2007

A new robotic system that fills drums with enzymes is one of the most flexible filling systems available worldwide for liquid products and pastes. Developed by Feige GmbH, using two IRB660 robots from ABB Robotics, it provides a fully automated solution that is not only space efficient, but keeps employees out of contact with the product.

There are only around 25 enzyme-producing companies in the world. In the West, almost half of all enzyme production is in Denmark. One leading Danish enzyme manufacturer has started filling its products using an automated robotic line developed by Feige GmbH using ABB Robots.

The space available for the Danish manufacturer for containerising its products - five different enzyme types into drums - was so tight that conventional filling technology could not be installed. Additionally, the enzymes and their vapours can be hazardous to the operators. So the entire filling process required automating with separation from other production areas by means of a filling cabin.

The company turned to Feige GmbH, who provided two of its type 91 RobotFillers. This system crucially offers fully automated product changes without the necessity for operator intervention in the installation or filling cabin. The operator merely has to select a new data set on the touch screen of the intuitive portable user interface. The exchangeable filling valves can be cleaned fully automatically in the meantime.

In front of the filling area, a new type of unstacking unit has been installed which separates the stacked containers or pallets. Materials airlocks in the area for incoming and outgoing containers, before the filling cabin, ensure the necessary separation of the filling area from the storage area.

The central component of each RobotFiller is an ABB IRB660 four-axis industrial robot with a load-bearing capacity of 180 kg. The RobotFiller starts working on the pallet from the top as soon as the pallet is in the operating position. The IRB660 robot traverses the calculated coordinates and computes the positions of the bungholes. It then establishes the height of the pallet and picks up the filling valve to fill the containers one after another.

Once the pallet is completely filled, the robot exchanges the filling valve with the screwing unit, and finally clinches it with a metal sealing cap.

“The sealing cap is an important factor for many customers as a seal of authenticity” says Bert Lindenberg, a director at Feige GmbH. The fully processed containers leave the filling area through a materials airlock, connecting to a turntable on which the pallets are automatically labelled.

“If a robot moves to a certain position, it must travel precisely to this position without fail two million times. As the space is very limited on the customer’s premises, absolute precise positioning of the robot is a key factor,” he explains.

ABB Robotics also supplied an IRC5 robot controller. Being specifically designed for panel mounting, it is ideal for system integrators and machine builders’ needs. Easy integration, substantial space savings and exceptional versatility made the IRC5 a cost-effective investment that is readily expandable to meet any future demands.

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