High-performance kinematic picker: alternative to articulated arm or delta robot

Consistently High Process Quality and Machine Performance

Highly sensitive products and primary packaging in the pharmaceutical industry are handled with particular care in accordance with their requirements – at high production speeds and precision, with fast product and format changes.

With the planar high-performance parallel kinematics, TRAPO AG created a fundamentally new solution for pick-and-place applications in the pharmaceutical industry in close cooperation with research departments at RWTH Aachen University. It has the necessary speed and flexibility to pick products on the one hand and pack them into provided cartons on the other.

The highly flexible pick-and-place robots perform the same movement constantly 24 hours a day at top performance and with absolute precision, thus ensuring consistently high process quality, machine availability and enormous cycle rates. The high-performance parallel kinematics consists of a five-member kinematic structure, a Z-axis and a rotary module for orientation. The modular system has an optional three or four degrees of freedom and is used as a high-speed pick-and-place system with up to 200 parts/minute and with up to five kilograms of payload.

  • Positioning through parallel kinematics
  • There is no comparable flat structure
  • Choice of large radius of action (800 mm) or large stroke (200 mm)
  • Reduced operator effort
  • Covers almost every application thanks to modular system
  • Highspeed Pick-and-Place System (HPPS series) with up to 200 picks/min and with up to 5 kg payload
  • TRAPO Packing System (TPS series) with up to 30 picks/min and up to 10 kg payload

In a setup with four axes, the mobile system functions as a TRAPO Packing System (TPS series) that packs bagged products into cartons, for example – with up to 30 picks/minute and with up to ten kilograms of payload. With the help of a camera, the parallel kinematics detect the position of the bags. These are then picked or, in the case of an NIO (out of order), discharged.

Flexibility for different tasks

To optimize it for the application, the innovative high-performance kinematics can be built in different variants: In the variant with a large radius of action, the picker has a rotationally symmetrical working space thanks to the parallel kinematic design and can therefore also reach behind itself. In addition, the parallel kinematic picker is available with two strokes (200 mm and 400 mm). At high speed, it thus offers an enormous working space. The individual grippers are also precisely adapted to the object properties.

Individual gripper technology

Key to the success of any robot application is the individual robot gripper technology: it influences the performance of the automated application; crucial when it comes to sustainably increasing and ensuring performance and quality. Combination grippers, which are developed and tested in the TRAPO Technical Center, eliminate the time-consuming and costly process of changing grippers. They combine different functions, especially when several tasks have to be performed or when space is limited. The perfect gripper adapts to different products and also grips, for example, pallets, workpiece carriers, intermediate layers or lids. With the help of vacuum technology, goods are safely picked up and transported by large-area grippers. Handling weights are increased by the number of suction cups and suitable vacuum generation.

Special competence: Hygienic design

Picker cells, palletizing components and robot grippers can be designed as part of the hygienic design so that they can be easily cleaned during the daily cleaning processes – thanks to in-house stainless steel production and over 50 years of expertise.

Interfaces to third-party suppliers are eliminated

The more autonomously machines and systems operate, the greater the consistently high performance achieved. Mechanically one structure, control-technically one system: hardware and software come from a single source. This eliminates potential sources of error, which can harbor interfaces to third-party suppliers. Customers cover all their production and intralogistics needs via a single point of contact. The modular system can be adapted to different framework conditions and thus covers almost every area of application.

Safe, reproducible production processes

In the pharmaceutical environment, legal regulations are particularly strict. A necessary prerequisite for automation solutions is reproducibility in production. These requirements are achieved on the one hand by complying with internationally prescribed verification obligations, and on the other hand by standardizing production processes.

As a link, a management system controls, monitors and analyzes all production processes, also in order to document within the framework of “Good Manufacturing Practice” (GMP) that components and systems are suitable for use in the pharmaceutical industry.

The TIM (TRAPO Intelligent Managementsystem) management system developed in-house combines mature automation expertise and industry know-how. The system solution scores with suitable functions both with regard to preventive maintenance and real-time interventions:

Efficiency analysis

  • Control and monitoring of production processes
  • Predictive maintenance and digital shopping basket for spare parts
  • Shipment tracking and inventory management
  • Lifetime monitoring of actuators

Data analysis can be used uniformly – with restricted authorizations for the respective user level. On this basis, demand can be evaluated, but also parts or raw materials can be ordered, stored, and provided via conveyor technology on a demand-driven basis with pinpoint accuracy. In addition, the continuous, management-relevant retrieval of data on plant conditions is made possible and continuous optimization, which in turn leads to permanently high plant availability, is achieved. Of course, third-party plants can be integrated into the system.

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