Fanuc for Palletizing

  • Hi, I'm new to the forum, and to robotics, so be gentle,


    I hope you are all good, and thanks for your input


    I have been offered a S420i with a R-J2 controller for what I think is a good offer, I was wondering about using this to palletize glass bottles in trays onto pallets, I am used to coding a few different types of plc's. The process is slow only 3-4 cases per minute, but I would like to automate it. what would your views be?

    I have about 4 different layer formats for different products, with about 4 on each layer turned 90 degrees to the rest,


    Is the controller too old or is there something I need to look out for?


    Thanks in advance

    Mark

  • kwakisaki

    Approved the thread.
  • I mean I don't think any robot is to old to do something it just depends on who is programming it. I would use tips from this video with using offsets.

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    I would use a sensor with the plc to send the robot to the start the program I mean it all just depends on the set up that you have. (Options on the robot) I'm still very new to this whole world I hope this helps a little :smiling_face:

  • On a newer robot, you could pay for the Fanuc PalletPro option, which does things like automatically generate pallet patterns for you from information about case sizes, pallet sizes, case spacing, etc. But it's entirely possible to program this by hand with an older controller -- it's just more work.


    For a brute-force method, you could simply hand-teach each pick/drop position on the pallet, and have the robot iterate through them one after another. Or you could teach a few key positions and use offsets, as SBeve2020 mentioned. Which approach your use will depend on the complexity of your pallet pattern and your comfort level programming in TP.


    You'll want to pay special attention to approach/depart paths. It's typical to generate those using offsets, but the offsets may not be constant -- you might need to alter them depending on which position on the pallet you're working, and what obstructions might be in the way.


    The big item is how you track which position of the pallet you're working, and what happens if/when that's wrong. Often we use just a simple counter, but counters can get out of sync with reality -- operators can alter them, or a new empty pallet might get loaded before the previous one is finished, or someone might hand-load or -unload a couple cases... well, any number of things can happen. And the robot might drop a case from a meter in the air, or try to smash its way down to the bottom of the pallet -- it won't know any better. So you'll want to have some sort of measures in place to protect against that. Force an operator to hit a button to confirm that yes, this new pallet really is empty before sending the robot a signal to reset the counter. Slow motion and collision detection when placing a case, to prevent accidents from causing too much damage. Or some sensors to provide a rough "sanity check" of the counter. This is all doable, and is done all the time. There's no way to make the process 100% foolproof, but some forethought can really reduce the most likely/dangerous risks.

  • Thank you for your advice, I will take the plunge and might as well try. I am sure I will have plenty of questions to ask, Is there anywhere you would recommend for an initial basic learning of some of the processes, I have watched a few videos on YouTube, to get a very basic grasp.

  • Thanks for the info,


    I was thinking, and wondering, Is there a simple way of verifying the number of cases on a pallet? so the machine doesn't either clash or drop the case? Is this done by the user or by a sensor, as it would need to verify both the layer qty and also the row/columns complete?


    secondly, pallet heights can vary, depending on the manufacturer, should I verify the height of the pallet somehow, and if so, any suggestions? or do I simply allow for the higher pallet and drop the case that 1 or 2 cm down onto the previous layer?


    I was planning to have a mechanical stop mounted on the floor so all pallets would be placed in the exact same spot to ensure each movement is the same


    Are all sensors mounted connected to the R-J2 panel to confirm the pallet is empty? I presume this could be done with 2 sensors shining across the pallet in different directions, to verify the beam isn't broken with a case? I suppose an operator could have an input button to confirm cases mid-pallet or at the start of every few rows? are these just wired as inputs to the panel, and comprise of simple push buttons? I presume there are several inputs/outputs i can use for connections inside the panel to give the robot more control?


    Thanks for you help, and apologies for what may be basic questions.


    Cheers

    Mark

  • I was thinking, and wondering, Is there a simple way of verifying the number of cases on a pallet? so the machine doesn't either clash or drop the case? Is this done by the user or by a sensor, as it would need to verify both the layer qty and also the row/columns complete?

    It all depends on what sensors you buy and connect to the robot, or whatever system is controlling the overall cell. What sensors you can use depends a lot on the case sizes and the pallet pattern.


    You could, for example, buy a laser ranging sensor, mount it to the robot end effector, and run a program that brings the laser to the center(ish) of where each case should be and checking if it's there or not (that would be slow, though). There's also various camera-type sensors that could be mounted overhead of the pallet and scan for cases.


    The main complexity here comes from the variety of ways things can go wrong. There's always a tradeoff between trying to cover every one, and the sheer cost/complexity of adding all that sensing. Also remember, sensors can be fooled, and sometimes adding more sensors just makes for more ways things can go wrong.

    secondly, pallet heights can vary, depending on the manufacturer, should I verify the height of the pallet somehow, and if so, any suggestions? or do I simply allow for the higher pallet and drop the case that 1 or 2 cm down onto the previous layer?

    If the product can accept a small drop, you could simply program everything to the height of the tallest pallet. If not, then, yes, you're probably going to want to offset the robot by the pallet height. You could do that via sensors, or by building a database of offsets per manufacturer and have someone set the Manufacturer value manually.

    Personally, I would start with the "tallest pallet" method and see if it works.

    Are all sensors mounted connected to the R-J2 panel to confirm the pallet is empty? I presume this could be done with 2 sensors shining across the pallet in different directions, to verify the beam isn't broken with a case? I suppose an operator could have an input button to confirm cases mid-pallet or at the start of every few rows? are these just wired as inputs to the panel, and comprise of simple push buttons? I presume there are several inputs/outputs i can use for connections inside the panel to give the robot more control?

    So, 2 beams across a pallet might work. But what if a case is small and placed exactly where the beams won't touch it? That's the kind of question you need to ask.


    How to connect to the RJ... is a damned good question. Depends heavily on what I/O option the RJ has installed. That's always a crapshoot with buying used controllers. It might have a certain number of screw terminals you can wire buttons/sensors to directly, or it might be set up for DeviceNet I/O bus, or a number of other options. Or the previous owners might have stripped everything out of it, I've seen that happen. You'll want to check before buying.

  • I just want to say this is a great reply!!! loads of good info. If you do the broke way without upgrading, Sensors, timers and OFFSET is the best shot you have in my option to keep it semi safe

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