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Thanks to its four-arm kinematics, the Omron Quattro not only has outstanding features for fast and efficient packaging – it also has a compact and high-performance servo control that significantly reduces material and space requirements as well as commissioning costs.
For the past few years, moving towards distributed networks with decentralised control concepts has been the trend when it comes to automation technology. Advances in computer technology mean that it is now no longer necessary to establish a top-down connection to a central PLC for all components, as was the case in the conventional automation pyramid. Instead, components such as servo motors, servo controllers and innovative field devices can distribute the control intelligence to a greater extent or even integrate it directly into the components. The direct benefits of this development for robotics are particularly evident in the Quattro delta robot from Omron.
Having four arms increases the Quattro's working area by around 30 percent, allowing it to use wider conveyor belts, to name but one example. Furthermore, the innovative kinematics enable an additional rotation of the payload, meaning the direction of the object can be changed during handling. As one of the few parallel robots in its class, the Quattro also meets the strict hygiene requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), making it suitable for primary packaging that comes into direct contact with food or pharmaceutical products.
"We are proud to have the Quattro in our portfolio at Omron. It is a robot designed for demanding packaging processes that not only works very precisely and quickly – processing up to 300 items per minute for pick and place operations – but is also certified for use in applications with high hygiene requirements," says Dr. Klaus Kluger, General Manager Central Region.
Saving space in the switch cabinet
When integrating a robot into a production line, two control units are usually incorporated into one larger unit, which not only takes up significant space in the switch cabinet, but also requires additional wiring – sometimes over long distances. The Smart Controller EX from Omron and the built-in servo control lower the risk of error; using such components also significantly reduces the amount of space required in the switch cabinet. This brings with it an increase in flexibility during integration into the packaging process, plus cost savings thanks to a reduction in material and installation costs.
The high performance of the Smart Controller EX means that it can be used as a smart, decentralised controller for up to four robots. Combined with the PackXpert software, complete packaging lines can be set up using the Quattro. Useful functions such as simulation and load balancing for all units on the line are integrated into the software. "We do not solely focus on robotics here at Omron; we always consider the interaction of all components in order to provide our customers with viable and efficient automation solutions," emphasises Dr. Klaus Kluger. "These solutions always include the software, other components such as feeding systems and image processing systems, controllers, and, last but not least, training and customer service."
More intelligence on site
The processor performance of the Smart Controller EX is ten times higher than that of its predecessor and features Gigabit Ethernet and eV+ advanced programming software. In addition to the Quattro, it can also be used in conjunction with SCARA robots from the Cobra series and the six-axis robots from the Viper series.
• TCP/IP interface
• Gigabit Ethernet
• Digital inputs/outputs
• Profibus/Profinet (optional)
• RS-232 serial port (115 kbps)
• RS-422/485 serial port
Packaging at unimaginable speeds
Thanks to decentralised control via the Smart Controller EX, the parallel robots from the Omron Quattro series have reached a new level of speed, flexibility, and precision. In the past, packaging processes were often associated with bottlenecks in production, but thanks to advances in robotics, this pattern has now been reversed. The packaging process almost "pulls along" the processes surrounding the actual manufacturing. "This was demonstrated, for example, in an order for a confectioner in Italy: In less than just one minute, 4500 to 5000 biscuits are given primary and secondary packaging in a plant using Omron equipment – significantly more than could be produced in the same time period," says Dr. Klaus Kluger.
"Combining the models from the Omron Quattro series with the Smart Controller EX and PackXpert software provides customers with the means to achieve particularly powerful and cost-effective packaging processes. The mobility of the robot, decentralised control and simulation using software make it easy to integrate and optimise entire lines – this is how packaging has become a star process."
About the author:
Peter Lange is the Business Development Manager of Fixed Robotics at Omron Europe. With a team of specialists, he supports local sales and application engineers throughout Europe in researching feasibility and in advising customers in robotics projects.
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