Automated Packaging Solution: Lip Balm Packaging
One of The Proud Company’s areas of expertise is the design and implementation of automated processes in manufacturing and packaging facilities. When designing automated packaging solutions, collaborative robots and custom end effectors are typically essential.
Recently, Proud implemented an automated packaging solution for tubes of lip balm. The end result included a Sawyer collaborative robot with a custom end effector to orient the product.
The object of this automated packaging solution was to load tubes of lip balm onto an indexing conveyor, slotted for 6 parts (tubes). The tubes would then be sent down the line to be packaged.
The goal was to move 60 parts per minute. This design was chosen in order to reach the speed necessary to meet the 60-parts-per-minute goal. It was decided that moving 6 tubes at once was the most efficient — and fastest — way to load the tubes.
WHAT, WHY, HOW: OUR SOLUTION
It was essential for workers to be able to move in and out of the work environment safely. For this reason, Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer collaborative robot was chosen for this application. Sawyer would be paired with a custom end effector, consisting of 6 rotary actuators, each connected to a pneumatic gripper via a unique 3D-printed arm. The arms were designed specifically for each position on the effector in order to avoid part collisions. As the lip balm tubes sat in their tray, the convex caps nestled into the concave advancement knob on the bottom of the tube. Each tube had to be rotated at a different pivot point to avoid crashing.
OUR SOLUTION IN ACTION
To load the tubes, Sawyer first waited for a signal from the part-detecting sensor at the end of the tray. When the tubes were detected, the robot picked the nested tubes from the tray. The tubes were then rotated at their individual pivot points in order to align them with the conveyor slots.
Next, Sawyer moved to the “place” position. Once there, the robot waited for a signal from the conveyor system stating that the conveyor stopped moving and was ready to receive the tubes. After the signal was received, Sawyer placed the tubes into the corresponding slots on the conveyor and returned to pick a new batch of tubes.
For the entire process — pick, rotate, place, and return — Sawyer was averaging a 5.75 second cycle time. See the solution in action below.
For more information on our custom automated packaging solutions, contact your Sales Engineer or Mark Proud Jr at The Proud Company at (412) 838-0230.