Some industrial automation processes look straightforward at first glance, and sometimes the challenges materialize only over time: In this case, the addition of a robot vision system into the automated handling process of oven bricks solved issues caused by ever-so-slightly shifting positions and changing shapes of these bricks during their processing.
Since 1990, Kautenburger GmbH (Germany) is setting standards in the development of innovative products and systems in industrial automation. Among their customers is Refractarios Kelsen S.A. (Spain). The company produces refractory components and solutions that include fire clay bricks, fireproof bricks used for lining furnaces.
In the production process, these bricks are stacked onto wagons, which transport them into an oven for hardening. Such bricks can come in well over 100 different shapes and sizes. In addition, in order to optimize the hardening process, they are stacked in very specific patterns.
“Stacking the bricks onto the wagons robotically is not a great challenge in terms of automation,” says Christian Kautenburger, Managing Director of Kautenburger GmbH. “However, during the processing and transport the bricks will – even if only slightly – change their shape, and their positions may shift as well.
Hence, simply reversing the palletizing procedure in order to de-palletize them, has led to issues: The lack of millimetric precision means the robot may be unable to grasp stones, as it cannot achieve a vacuum. On occassion, it can even cause the delicate stacks to tumble over. This leads to downtimes, waste and requires human intervention, making the automated handling somewhat inefficient.”
“Our customer is very impressed:
They had not expected that this seemingly simple and highly cost-efficient modification would eliminate these errors entirely, nor that the implementation would be as flawless as it was.
Also, the customer appreciates the very intuitive interfaces of this robot vision system as much as we do. It is easy to make changes and updates. Robot vision expertise is not required, neither for implementation nor updates and maintenance.“
Whether fully automated manufacturing cells, robotics, gripping systems or conveyor technology: A wide variety of industries use Kautenburger’s high-tech solutions. From concept and development to the entire production, assembly and commissioning, the customer can count on their know-how and flexibility.
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