Paper mill robot applies labels

Case study: New labeling robot installation at paper mill completed in 12 hours. Kuka Robotics and Optima Control Solution deliver maximum reliability for an automation system integration project.


Optima Control Solutions Ltd., a system integrator, programmed, installed, and commissioned the new robot; a Kuka Robotics KR 30 F is shown. Courtesy: Optima Control SolutionsA paper manufacturer deployed industrial robots for label application to its finished products, continuing industrial innovations to maximize productivity in recent years. The company’s Flintshire, U.K.-based paper mill faced reliability problems with one of the robots functioning on-site.

The automation engineer involved noted that the label applicator robot had become increasingly unreliable over several years, resulting in a number of unacceptable breakdowns. An 8-hour downtime can halt mill production. Deteriorating robot reliability was critical and warranted the purchase of a new robot.

Engineers presented user specifications to several robotics companies. Mark Fisher, project engineer at Kuka Robotics, said after meeting requirements capabilities and cost, customer support during the project also helped. Kuka Robots employed a 3G router and ensured that remote robot diagnostics are possible via LogMeIn (a remote control desktop website). The most challenging part of the project was calculating the arc the robot had to take relative to the roll diameter and width sent over the industrial network by the PLC, Fisher said.

Robots that have shorter lifting distances and longer reach due to the low base frame help reduce cycle times in machine tending tasks, according to Kuka Robotics. Courtesy: Optima Control SolutionsFor the project, Kuka partnered with Optima Control Solutions Ltd., a system integrator, for programming, installing, and commissioning the new robot. Optima integrated the new robot with the existing machine control system.

Stephen Carradice, Optima’s system design engineer, engineered and commissioned the robot control software and arranged integration between the existing Siemens S7 PLC and the new robot controls using a Profibus communications interface. The mill engineer noted that the complex installation was completed in 12 hours.

Application update: The new robot is functioning at 100%, according to last report, and other automation projects are planned.

- Hristina Stefanova is with Optima Control Solutions Ltd. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer, 

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