USDA OKs hygienic robot; robots have vision for photovoltaic manufacturing

Fanuc Robotics received USDA approval for a high-speed food pick robot; Adept Technology explains how robots with machine vision can help photovoltaic manufacturing. Photos....

By Control Engineering Staff July 29, 2008

Rochester Hills, MI, and Livermore, CA – While U.S. government approvals for meat and poultry can be tough, Fanuc Robotics received approval for a high-speed food pick robot, which may save workers from many repetitive movement injuries. In other robotic news, an Adept Technology white paper explains how robots with machine vision can help photovoltaic manufacturing. Using industrial robots brings shorter processing times, lower wage costs, less breakage, and higher cost effectiveness. Four photos follow. Fanuc Robotics receives USDA acceptance for M-430iA robot : Fanuc Robotics America Inc . says that its M-430iA/2F high-speed, food picking robot is the first robot to meet hygiene requirements for meat and poultry processing and to receive equipment acceptance from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Fanuc Robotics receives USDA acceptance for M-430iA robot.

“The M-430iA is built in accordance with the USDA, AMS hygiene requirements for the materials, design, and fabrication of equipment used in the preparation and packaging of food products,” said Sumeet Vispute, product manager, picking, packing, and palletizing, Fanuc Robotics America Inc. By meeting or exceeding the USDA, AMS criteria as published in the NSF/ANSI/3-A 14159-1 2002 specifications, the robot has earned the right to bear the USDA, AMS Meat and Poultry Accepted Equipment logo, Vispute said, adding that the five-axis M-430iA/2F is the fastest robot from FANUC Robotics, setting a “new speed record for articulated robots of 120 cycles per minute at a 1 kg payload, and 100 cycles per minute at a 2 kg payload.”Designed for food washdown environments, M-430iA/2F can pick primary food and packaged products at speeds up to 120 cycles per minute on a continuous basis while using visual line tracking. The compact robot can be mounted in various positions including floor, wall, or invert, which maximizes flexibility for tight workspaces. Features include clean design with no food particle retention areas to resist bacteria growth and rust; the capability to work primary (unpackaged) and secondary (packaged) food products; a hollow arm to avoid air line and electric cable exposure; and it is manufactured with food-grade grease, and USDA-accepted parts. The robot has a special coating, materials and seals to withstand caustic food industry cleaners and acids used in food plant washdown operations and an IP67 rating allows it to withstand the rinsing process after caustic washdown.The robot also handles beverages, medical devices, cosmetics, household products, office supplies, and other consumer products.The company’s PickTool software simplifies setup of high-speed multi-robot picking systems. PickTool divides incoming product so that each robot in the system picks an equal number of products. It can assign a specific percentage of products to each robot and it allows each robot to pick from a certain section of the conveyor, the company says.Off-line robot simulation software: PickPro is the latest process-specific plug-in to Roboguide, an off-line robot simulation software with a Fanuc Robotics Virtual Robot Controller and full-featured robot programming. Roboguide provides the tools needed to develop and test a robotic application in a simulation environment without the time and costs associated with developing a prototype work cell, the company says.The Fanuc iRVision system, a ready-to-use robotic vision package, requires a camera and cable. It has a 2D robot guidance tool to accomplish part location, error proofing, and operations that normally require special sensors or custom fixtures, the company says.Also read:

Smooth pizza picking with a robot.

White paper addresses industrial robots with image processing in photovoltaic industry: A new white paper, Industrial Robots with Image Processing in the Photovoltaic Industry, from Adept Technology reports that the photovoltaic industry has needs that encourage use of automation technology. Using industrial robots brings shorter processing times, lower wage costs, less breakage, and higher cost effectiveness.

Adept Technology provides
Machine vision helps robots pick and place.
Ask the right questions when applying robotics.

Many robotics systems lack the most important of the five human senses and work blind, Adept Technology says. The number of tasks that a blind robot is precluded from performing is obvious. A seeing’robot can flexibly pick up, recognize, and measure wafers, solar cells, and even whole modules, and then place gripped objects with precision and speed.Approximately 35% of the robotics systems Adept Technology supplies have integrated image processing and around 20% of all robotics systems are supplied to the photovoltaic industry. Be it high-speed parallel kinematics, linear axis combinations, SCARA robots, or elbow robots, all gain flexibility with image processing.In the 1980s the food industry was reaping the benefits of integrated image processing by using robots for packaging and sorting, Adept Technology says. Pastries, chocolates, and rolls were picked and sorted by conveyor belt, which required object and position recognition functions plus synchronizing the robot with the moving object. The primary factor has been integration of image processing and robot control into a logical unit. Each function can access data from other functions in a few milliseconds. Camera focus of the image processing is calibrated to the robot coordinate system internally. Complex and inflexible communication protocols required by most external systems are virtually eliminated.Dimensions of cells and modules are constantly changing. Wafers are made thinner to save on silicon. Processing steps evolve and manufacturers must build flexibility into the design of production plants, which forces them to use robotics. The fact that product commitment in robotics lies in the software has advantages– short response times for making changes and introducing new variants. Software for new variants can be tested in the laboratory, away from the production line; production can start quickly. Set-up times for product upgrades are eliminated with software variants and plants are easily duplicated,since once software is created it can be copied to different production lines.“The use of robotics in the solar industry is becoming increasingly important as manufacturers strive to lower their costs by creating solutions for the efficient production of solar cells and modules,” said Ruediger Winter, director of sales Europe at Adept Technology. “As they adopt automation it is vital for manufacturers to choose reliable partners and efficient products right from the start.” Questions that robotics suppliers of the future will have to consider are:• Does the manufacturer have different types of kinematics to meet future requirements?• Does the manufacturer offer effective programming support?• How quickly are spare parts available?• Does the manufacturer offer special training for programmers/operators?• Is documentation available in different languages?• Does the manufacturer supply a powerful image processing system for use with its robots and is this easily configured?A copy of the white paper is available from Adept Technology .Also read:

Inverted Adept SCARA robot for packaged goods


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