Bottling is an important stage in many manufacturing processes. Liquid products are packaged as part of the final stage of production, for example in the brewing, distilling and beverage industries. The physical ‘bottle lifting’ process is a key part of this process and a new combination of an air gripper tool and sophisticated robot controller is helping manufacturers to get a better grip on their bottles and improve their bottling process.
The patented AirGrip® bottle gripping tool and MOTOMAN® robots developed by YASKAWA features a unique combination of state-of-the-art industrial robots equipped with patented grippers which are designed for safe handling of bottles at very high speeds. For example, in one bottling application for a major soft drink manufacturer 1.5 litre PET bottles are being handled at a rate of 47,000 bottles per hour. Other sites where the system has improved the efficiency of the bottling process, include a number of major European breweries in Sweden and Norway.
The AirGrip gripper tool has been introduced to meet the demands for a flexible application in bottling plants where the same basic concept can be used for both small and large applications and for a wide variety of purposes. The technology can be adapted to meet the requirements of individual production lines, speeds and product development. This enables production to be more easily adjusted to meet the varying demands of the market whilst enabling high standards of reliability to be met.
AirGrip is available as a basic model in which the rubber gripping cuffs can be replaced when worn by simply unlocking and pulling out the gripping head compartment. The cuffs are designed in 5 standard sizes covering most of the current assortment of bottle sizes, from 0.5, 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 litres.
Depending on the application, for example handling trays from a pallet, or bottles into trays, the AirGrip concept includes a MOTOMAN-MPL160, or MOTOMAN-MPK50 robot, the AirGrip device, a conveyor, a pallet magazine and an operator’s control panel. When the requirement is bottles into trays, a configuration table replaces the pallet magazine. Either way AirGrip makes sure that the bottles are picked up with a secure hold and controlled movements are possible at high speeds.