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Flexible cobot gripper handles cosmetics

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Flexible cobot gripper handles cosmetics

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Whether cartons, bags, tubes or glass containers, Piab‘s Kenos KCS gripper helps the cosmetics industry to combine and pack many different small items in different ways for different branch types. The matching UR-Caps app makes commissioning the gripper for handling cosmetics on a cobot from Universal Robots particularly easy. Thanks to the flexibility of the Kenos KCS gripper, it can handle products of any shape or surface.

For the cosmetics industry, placing products into packages ranging from huge divisions in department stores or flagship outlets to tiny cosmetic shops, is a particular challenge. Today this task is often fulfilled by an armada of workers hand picking and placing each item into each specific box. The opportunity for automation seems obvious, but it is also challenging, as it demands an extremely high degree of flexibility to make an investment economically worthwhile.

Piab’s UR Plus certified Kenos KCS gripper considers these requirements
of customers from the cosmetics industry who are in need of a solution that provides a combination of many small items in various ways for different store types.

Automation tool

Cobot manufacturer Universal Robots specialises in the provision of automation solutions that solve tasks together with the human workforce. While cobots are easy to use and fast to deploy, flexibility often depends on the gripper technology.

To support Universal Robots’ vision of
providing an out-of-the-box usable solution, the gripper must seamlessly integrate into the UR-Plus plug-and-play-
platform, which allows easy installation and implementations. The start-up phase when using new UR-Plus certified grippers is considerably shortened by the UR-Caps developed by the gripper manufacturer. These small programmes are similar to mobile phone apps. Within a few minutes they enable the user to commission a new gripper on a Universal Robots cobot without detailed programming know-how. Piab’s Kenos KCS gripper is now equipped with the respective UR Cap and listed on the respective UR-Plus-Solutions website.

Any gripper used in cosmetics distribution needs to offer the flexibility of being able to handle all kinds of products, in every shape and packaging type, be it cartons, bags, tubes or glass containers. With the flexibility of the Kenos KCS gripper, customers in the cosmetics industry are able to pick and place products with any shape or surface. This makes it easy for them to handle a variety of different parts with just one end-of-arm-tool.

KCS system

The Kenos KCS gripper consists of a separate pump unit, which integrates modular vacuum generation in a very small space, and of a gripper unit. Both are connected by a quick-change system. The main gripper consists of a technical foam, which can adapt to a wide variety of contours and can thus flexibly accommodate different parts. This eliminates in many cases the need for accurate identification of a product as well as the gripping surfaces. Accordingly, in many
applications, exchanging the gripper when changing the products to be handled is not necessary. The cobot is therefore ready for immediate use for different processes. In
addition to the greatest possible flexibility in the field of application, time and cost savings are achieved through shorter downtimes and time needed for retooling.

Another advantage in this context is that the worn foam layer can be easily replaced without having to replace the entire gripper. For direct handling of food, the gripper can also be equipped with a special FDA-approved technical foam. For special applications, such as the handling of plastic bags of concentrates or granulates, Piab has developed another gripper unit, which can be swiftly exchanged via the quick-change system.

Flexibility in terms of forms and surfaces that can be handled, as well as in the placement of products to be handled, are a plus for the cosmetics industry. It does not matter for the Kenos KCS gripper if a product is placed exactly in a specifically planned location – it can pick it up as long as its foam surface can hold most of the product.

The gripper units are characterised by their edgeless design. Due to the rounded sides and the surface of technical foam, possible injury hazards were largely eliminated. This makes the gripper units particularly safe to use on cobots, which cooperate freely with humans.

Use of Coax vacuum technology

The pump unit is equipped with the powerful Coax SX vacuum technology. The lightweight Pichip unit is a small, integration-optimised vacuum pump and was selected because of its almost silent operation, making it ideal for using it directly next to the operator. Because Coax ejectors are very fast and deliver three times more flow than a conventional ejector with identical air consumption, the Pichip unit can deliver high performance even with low or fluctuating supply pressure. Independent comparison tests at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Dresden have shown that the Piab ejectors require significantly lower compressed air to achieve the same output compared to ejectors from other manufacturers. This makes them particularly energy efficient. Accordingly, their use reduces the cost of providing compressed air and thus the total cost of production.

Piab Vakuum GmbH, Butzbach, Germany


Author: Bernd Gries

Manager Global Sales
Strategic Accounts,
Piab Vakuum

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