Careful handling of sensitive plants

Automation of a high-performance picking system

This solution not only inspires gardening enthusiasts: at Volmary, flowering and herbaceous plants are pre-pulled and confected for the wholesale trade.

TRAPO proves a green thumb: in the development and automation of a flexible picking system for plant trays.

Task

Processing of 3000 trays with 3500 different plant articles per hour. A particular challenge: The unstable, soiled trays, which vary in size, are rooted. Consequently, the conveyors must be easy to clean and insensitive to dirt.

Solution

Product database

The product database manages around 3500 individual articles, each provided with a barcode via which it can be reliably identified. This is already assigned at the time of sowing. Thanks to the connection to the higher-level control system, the type-label can be scanned, read out and the tray assigned to the customer order.

Special challenge. If leaves or dirt cover the code, for example, a nozzle blows the label free. If the label is completely missing, the tray is automatically rejected.

Customized packaging

The higher-level control system knows the contents of the tray and transfers the information to which customer order the tray belongs. On the conveyor belt, the tray is labeled by printer with the customer’s name as well as logistical information on the stacking cart and shelf.

Recieving lane

The control system flexibly assigns customers to the 44 lanes. The trays are delivered via the high-performance ejector. They are transported via the chutes, under which there are walkways. At the end of the chute, they are a break slows them down. This prevents the accumulation pressure from becoming too great and damaging plants.

Requirements

  • Product database with about 3500 individual items
  • Merging of the items to the respective product order
  • 44 flexible conveyor tracks
  • At the end of the conveyor line, a chute brakes the plant trays to prevent damage to young plants
  • Special feature
  • An automatic watering trolley supplies the plants. To avoid the risk of collision with the conveyor belt, a pneumatic lifting system was installed for loading.

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