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Atlanta, GA Robotics Firm CAMotion Announces Depalletizing Machine
Atlanta-based robotics firm CAMotion has received a multi-million dollar order for large depalletizing machines that are driven by machine vision. Each of these robots services over 3,000 sq ft of floor space and is used to automatically remove material from multiple pallets for placement in nearby production machines. A unique safety system allows the machine to share the floor space with workers.
Because the overhead moving bridges, which provide four-dimensional motions, are light in weight by historical standards, they can be operated on overhead rails normally used by manual lifting devices. Making the entire arrangement more practical is lower installed cost and the absence of any cables or pneumatic connections between the bridge and the factory floor.
A customer, reflecting on the change to automated material handling stated, “We had two objectives by installing these machines, improved safety and reducing costs and we have been able to achieve both of them.”
CAMotion, Inc. is a Georgia Tech spinoff incubated at Georgia’s Advanced Technology Development Center. CAMotion’s robots vary widely in size and payload and are distinguished by the use of advanced motion control and sensors to achieve high precision and speed with lightweight structures.
The machines will move payloads of up to 150 lb. in a clamping-style gripper. The system consists of a four-axis servo driven overhead bridge type robot that is entirely driven by machine vision to find the payloads on pallets and to guide the gripper to loading positions on nearby processing machines. The system monitors the loading positions on the processing machines to determine the needed motions to maintain downstream production. As pallets are depleted, messages are sent to the factory control system to cause new pallets to be provided. Vision is also used to read codes on the payloads so that only correct material is loaded.
A unique feature of these machines is the scanning type Automated Sweeping Safety System mounted to the bridge unit. Four safety rated scanners are used to determine that the work volume is cleared of personnel and will allow the depalletizing to proceed automatically once the volume is cleared. Secondary measures are taken to assure that the payload is firmly grasped and to determine if something or someone is inappropriately close to the gripper.
About CAMotion: CAMotion supplies gantry style systems with a range of motion between one meter and 50 meters. For the smaller systems, round trip times of one second for payloads up to 10 Kg are available. All machines are cost-effective thanks to the use of low weight moving parts coupled with advanced control algorithms that allow considerable bending of the structure without residual vibration. Further, the positions are based on sensed information, both for the machine’s end-effector and payload allowing for greater accuracy and speed. Typical applications are factory floor material handling such as case packing and unpacking, palletizing and depalletizing, as well as assembly. Because automating these activities reduces labor, the question of inspection of payload often becomes an issue. CAMotion applies its expertise in machine vision and other sensors to incorporate inspection of payloads into the robotic systems.
One recent area of application includes control of cable cranes of any size in which the crane essentially becomes a robot with swing free operation, collision prevention, precise automatic positioning, and ease of jogging. Swing free operation and precise positioning can be enhanced with vision based tracking of the hook and payload.