Safer robotics reducing manufacturing’s labour costs

Cheap imports coupled with Australia’s high labour costs and dollar has resulted in a downturn in the manufacturing sector.

Today one of the industry’s biggest challenges is to remain competitive and with automation and robotic technology getting cheaper this challenge is becoming easier to tackle.

The lower cost of robotic technology is also making it easier for Aussie manufacturers to justify as the return on investment is becoming increasingly attractive.

The improved development of smart robotics and machine vision systems has also made the light work of once difficult applications.

One company driving the charge towards improving Australia’s manufacturing prospects is Apex Automation and Robotics through the development of Gantry Robots.

The Sydney based company specialises in the design and manufacture of automation machines and robotic systems for a range of industries including plastics, foods, metal manufacturing and consumer products.

In a recent turnkey project for a contract filling company, Apex developed a Gantry Robot for the palletisation of plastic bottles.  The robot runs across three blow moulding machines producing different products, palletising one row at a time on a first-in, first-served principle.

The system includes three accumulation conveyors and when a row of bottles is ready it is separated and presented to the robot for palletising.

The robot head consists of a custom-designed gripper that can handle different products coming from different machines, as well as load the layer pads.

Recognising that safety on the factory floor is a key concern for manufacturers, Apex designed the robot to be completely guarded with perimeter fencing and light curtains which allow for safe access. The safety circuit also includes redundancy and safety monitoring devices in accordance to the relevant Australian standards.

This particular Gantry Robot is compact in design, can handle a wide range of products including unstable bottles with small bases and is able to be expanded for future product lines with an operator friendly touch screen, making adding new products a simple process.

The Gantry Robot is the latest addition to the company’s automation solutions and is already delivering labour cost reductions and improved site safety.