Drives and Controls Magazine

Robots can follow moving conveyors to within 2mm

01 October, 2001

Robots can follow moving conveyors to within 2mm

ABB has developed a technique that allows robots to track, and handle, parts on nearby conveyor lines, regardless of how the conveyor is moving. The company claims that with a conveyor travelling at 350mm/s, the tool point centre of a robot will stay within ±2mm of a path programmed while the conveyor was stationary. This accuracy will be maintained even if the conveyor speed changes.

The technique has been developed for use on robot-equipped production lines. It uses "position synchronisation" software to shadow objects on linear or circular conveyors, and can cope with a queue of up to 250 objects. The position of the conveyor is monitored using a two-phase encoder and synchronisation switch.

The technique is expected to be used for applications such as picking, packing, painting, coating and materials-handling.