Safe palletising of vehicle batteries with Piab Duraflex friction cups
The Italian automation specialist Gruppo Esea got the assignment to design a safe pick-and-place system for the palletizing process at a major manufacturer of vehicle batteries.
«We immediately turned to Piab, with whom we have been collaborating for long time on automation projects for a variety of applications, certain that we would find the best solution for our customer. Piab’s technicians always know how to support us optimally, meeting our requirements with state-of-the-art solutions,» says Alessandro Liberatore, Gruppo Esea’s CEO.
Gruppo Esea’s solution supports the end of a conveyor belt system where finished vehicle batteries are washed and checked before being passed on to the palletising area. The smallest batteries measure 100 x 200 x 300 mm, weighing 15 kg, while the largest measure 350 x 650 x 700 mm and weigh up to 270 kg.
The palletising system is based on a Gruppo Esea-built Cartesian gantry which picks up each battery individually and releases them onto a pallet, measuring 1100 x 800 x 153 mm, where the batteries are arranged in chequered patterns.
The pallet composition varies from 24 units for the smallest batteries to four units for the largest batteries. Once filled, the pallet leaves the line and is ready to be shipped to the end customer.
Safe picking, moving and releasing is enabled by Piab DURAFLEX® friction cups. Thirty units of the following types are in use:
– OBF 50×140 P (polyurethane);
– BFFT 70 P (polyurethane);
– BFFT 50 P (polyurethane).
The line is also equipped with a mechanical system with an anti-fall function in the event of pneumatic or electrical power failures.
«Batteries at the end of the washing cycle are wet objects and therefore they are difficult to pick up and handle. Piab’s friction cups make it possible to cope with these difficulties, guaranteeing a grip for maximum process safety, regardless of the type of battery format to be handled,» concludes Gianfranco Vitale, Gruppo Esea’s Mechanical Designer, responsible for the project.
Since the installation of the new system, the plant allows the handling of one battery per minute (including washing cycle), which translates into approximately 600 batteries on pallet per day.
A special material combining elasticity with strength
Piab’s DURAFLEX® friction cups are made of a special material that combines the elasticity of rubber with the strength of polyurethane. The material leaves no marks on handled objects and has a fantastic elastic memory, even after hundreds of thousands of cycles. These suction cups are ideal for handling oily or moist surfaces as well as dry surfaces. They are able to withstand high shear forces, generally 3-5 times higher than conventional suction cups, and offer excellent grip, regardless of orientation.