Tactile Feeling on the Conveyor Belt
Geppert-Band GmbH, Jülich, Germany, has designed a special conveyor from standard components - equipped with a light-permeable conveyor belt and an opening in the frame for a light installed under the conveyor - for the production line of a laboratory product manufacturer. The central demand here was the exact recognition of the random positioning of the parts on the belt to ensure accurate gripping by the robot. The method previously used for recognizing the position of the parts - in this case fixing clamps - using a camera, picking up with a robot arm and transporting for sterilization resulted in too many parts being scrapped: Due to the lack of optical contrast between belt and part, roughly every 15th clamp was not correctly recognized by the camera and could therefore not be precisely picked up by the robot arm.
The design proposed by Geppert-Band and developed further together with the Swiss company is as simple as it is precise: A flat belt conveyor of standard components was modified so that a piece of stainless steel was omitted in the middle of the frame. A light source underneath the recess now illuminates the conveying area through a light-permeable conveyor belt. Under these light conditions, the camera recognizes the parts more accurately – and the robot arm grips all the parts precisely. According to the manufacturer, the production scrap rate is now practically zero thanks to the new "tactile feeling" of the gripper.
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