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`Seeing` robot eliminates operators

01 March, 2002

`Seeing` robot eliminates operators

A Swedish automation specialist has developed a robot with 3D vision which can transfer components between pallets and processing machinery without needing an operator to place the components on the pallets and fixtures. The PalletPicker robot can also pick products for grading, threading, washing, and packing.

The robot, developed by Svensk Industriautomation (SI), uses optical sensors to detect the pallet`s surfaces in three dimensions to an accuracy of a few tenths of a millimetre.

"It only takes a minute to teach the robot to handle a new component, and it is automatically programmed with the correct positions for collection and delivery," explains Peter Karlsson, the company`s head of marketing. "When one changes a product, it is sufficient to change the grip fingers on the robot and tap in the new item number, as no mechanical adjustment is needed."

Pallet data from the optical sensors is processed by a computer which sends the co-ordinates of the top-most components on the pallets to the robot which picks them up and transfers them to the processing station. According to SI, the shapes of the components and their material are not important and the pallets do not need to be sorted. The only limiting factors are the weight and size of the objects.

Karlsson says that the PalletPicker system can pay for itself within a year.

As well as reducing the need for on-site operators, the system can also be used to control material-handling applications remotely via the Internet.

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