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Precise and repeatable

11 May 2020

A canned drink producer decided to place the labels onto the retaining straps (which are 12mm wide) that secure the load, instead of directly onto the pallets themselves.

The reason is to avoid contact between the cans and the adhesive labels that must be applied to every pallet dispatched. Blackstar Handling provided the solution.

Managing director Ian Pegler says: “Applying the label direct onto the strap, rather than onto the pallets themselves, was not in itself a major challenge, other than identifying the correct adhesive. But achieving the combination of the required speeds, position, precision and repeatability made us think very carefully about the best ways to automate the process using Kawasaki Robotics.” 

A standard Kawasaki Robotics RS-10N model was installed to position the labels accurately, repeatedly, and on an unbroken 24-hour shift pattern, sometimes for months on end if required, and with minimal maintenance involved. Operating as part of the bigger package at Blackstar’s customer plants, the RS-10N applies two labels per pallet direct onto the retaining straps and typically works through sixty very large pallets an hour, or one every minute. The required accuracy on the project was for label placement to be within +/- 1mm in both the X and Y axes, with appropriate pressure to physically attach the label on contact: well within the capability of a robot that is supplied as standard from Kawasaki with a guaranteed accuracy of +/- 0.03mm when carrying a 10kg payload at a reach of 1450mm. 

Pegler further states that an additional advantage of working with the Kawasaki team was that on this project Blackstar could also do away with using a PLC on the robot system, thus reducing costs and complexity, while also seeing efficiency improved. Working on a cycle time of 25 seconds per pallet for labelling, the RS-10N robot and system has thus far proved faultless. Almost 9,000 cans are contained on each of the hundreds of pallets being delivered by this Blackstar customer weekly and, to date, not a single instance of can/label contact has been reported.