Italian packager finds robotic success with Wittenstein gearheads
Robot simplifies food industry product handling, partnership ensures quality. Combined planetary gearhead and ac servo motor reduces installation space more than 20%. See photos; links to related robotics, motion, and vision resources.
By Control Engineering Staff
Cama Group is an Italian company that has been producing high-tech systems for secondary packaging for almost 30 years. Its customized robotic packaging systems simplify food industry product handling, and its partnership with quality suppliers facilitates innovation. Even something as small as gearheads have contributed to its success.
Ninety percent of Cama’s sales are to the food industry, and its machines package everything from baked goods (biscuits, snacks) to confections to dairy products (yogurt, cheese and ice creams). Every phase of packing that precedes palletization is covered by its machines: forming, closing and cartoning machines; case packers; sleeving machines; and 2- to 4-axis robots equipped with vision systems.
Gearheads are small, but essential parts within a machine and can make a difference in quality. Wittenstein products are installed on most Cama systems. For example, Wittenstein’s TPM+ servo-actuator (photo) is on Cama robotic lines.
“TPM+ compacts the motor-gearbox solution into a minimal space so that it can be flanked by different multitask transport units. This leads to a more functional machine layout, easier maintenance and a more modern and dynamic group image,” says Alessandra Suriano, communications director of Wittenstein S.P.A., the Italian subsidiary of Wittenstein alpha GmbH. “As a matter of fact, TPM+ merges the planetary gearhead and ac servo motor into a single unit reducing its installation space by over 20%. Its new technological design and its rounded corners make it less subject to impurity deposits without affecting its precision, functionality and controllability, even working at high speed.”
Cama’s new Delta Triaflex robot, part of the company’s “custom made” robot range, is equipped with Wittenstein alpha TP+ series gearboxes. “This is the successor of the TP, which has been developed with high precision and stiffness requirements for robotics applications. Thanks to its helicoidal gear-cutting and to the optimization of its single parts, TP+ is extremely noiseless and produces up to 40% more torque than the previous series,” says Suriano. “For the high dynamics of Triaflex, TP+ gearheads represent the ideal transmission and enable simple and reliable coupling with robot’s long, carbon fiber arms (see photo).
According to Daniele Bellante, general manager of Cama Group , a Triaflex machine can reach a speed of up to 150 cycles per minute, works in single and double line tracking and, from a technical point of view, can perform particularly complicated operations, such as the management and loading of products onto a continuously working machine. Combined with an “intelligent” vision system, Triaflex is able to work on three dimensions, rotate its head 360 degrees, collect products at random from a conveyor belt and position them correctly into their packaging. It is equipped with four controlled axes, carbon fiber arms for collecting and depositing from any position or for loading a moving flow pack or horizontal cartoning machine.
“This robot clearly simplifies all the product handling required in a production line, from feeding to loading, and it has an excellent benefit/cost ratio,” says Bellante. “We have obtained the necessary reliability and flexibility by combining in-depth movement control with high manipulation speed.”
Adds Bellante: “Our robots are designed to be integrated within our packaging systems and are versatile and compact; this is the reason why our electrical cabin is much more functional compared to that of an integrator, which introduces an external robot in a production line.”
CAMA’s aim is to satisfy its customers’ needs by providing them with custom-tailored solutions for every packaging request and Wittenstein is the partner who makes it possible to reach this important goal.
According to Annalisa Bellante, marketing manager of Cama Group. Cama invests about 5% of its turnover into research and development, “This choice has been our strength and thanks to our continuous product innovation we are able to offer‘state of the art’ systems to our customers. The quality of our systems also lies in our choice of dependable suppliers.” Despite the economic crisis of the last few years, she says, that combination “has enabled Cama to grow and to triple our turnover over the last five years, reaching about 40 million Euros in 2008.”
Suriano confirms that Wittenstein has “a privileged relationship with Cama that has lasted for years. It is based on values like quality and reliability, which are essential for supplying customers with complete solutions designed for their specific needs. Since their production lines can work nonstop for even up to 24 hours at high speed, the quality level of all of their parts must be the top.”
Regular investment in R&D by Wittenstein Group has helped it be a leader in the design, development and production of low backlash planetary gearheads, servo right-angle gearboxes, rotary and linear servo-actuators and complete transmission systems, she says. “Today, our solutions add up to more than 40 thousand possible combinations, and 85% of our products are‘younger’ than five years.”
– Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk