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New device gets to grips with handling tasks

01 February 2008

Kuka has launched a new, patented robotic gripper system which is specially designed to streamline the automation of depalletising applications. The layer-depalletising gripper is capable of secure handling and depositing of layers of products, with or without shrink wrap, thanks to its ‘roll-up’ principle.

Two rollers, driven by servo motors, gently push against the pallet layer from opposite sides. The products are then rolled up and pushed onto two symmetrical carrier plates. Thanks to Kuka's software, the gripper is able to adjust contact pressure and positioning of the rollers to suit the weight and height of the products.

Kuka says that a typical robotic cell featuring the new gripper system could handle a layer weighing up to 200kg and depalletise as many as 300 layers an hour. The gripper is suitable for handling a wide variety of products, offering short cycle times and easy operation. It also incorporates a special centring function which ensures it accurately deposits the goods.

“Automatic depalletising can be complicated, as the variety of products and their packaging have little in common,” explained Tony Dowling, robot sales specialist at KUKA Automation + Robotics. “However, Kuka has recognised the fact that most do have flat bottoms so has taken advantage of this fact to develop a universal system capable of gripping layers of products where all other conventional methods fail."

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