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Kenos® vacuum grippers handling wooden products

From forest to furniture – Kenos® grippers keep timber products safe

Date 5/23/2017

Grappling with everything from unprocessed tree trunks to fine pieces of furniture, Kenos® foam padded vacuum grippers from Piab offer a soft but firm grip for safe, automatic handling of timber and wood products. Two models and tailored designs serve a broad range of applications.

Multifaceted, and with a diverse range of products, the timber and wood processing industry is a particularly demanding customer. However, Piab's Kenos® grippers have been specially developed to fulfil the often specific and yet sometimes conflicting industry requirements, offering both flexibility and precision.

Foam grip key to firm grip

The grippers use a special foam padding for an adaptable grip that enables them to hold on tight to a variety of surfaces. The foam molds itself around objects, hugging tightly around oddly shaped furniture parts or the rough surfaces of un-planed wooden boards.

Made of EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber, the foam padding is available in thicknesses from 10mm up to 40mm. The thicker the padding is, the better it is able to compensate for surface variations such as gaps and grooves.

Heavy duty model for heavy loads...

At the heavy duty end of the spectrum, Kenos® Heavy Vacuum Gripper (KHVG) is capable of handling the heaviest timber products found particularly in the forestry industry and saw mills. In addition to keeping a firm grip on unprocessed timber, it can lift and move complete layers of sawn timber, heavy planking and other building materials.

Fitted with an extra thick layer of foam, the heavy duty gripper is especially adept at handling uneven, twisted or bent pieces of wood. Because of the ability to tailor not just the thickness but also the foam padding's other dimensions to suit customer specifications, grippers can be perfected for any shape, size or weight.

...and tough environments

The heavy duty KHVG model is also able to withstand the often challenging environments in which this end of the industry operates. Tree trunks delivered straight from the forest floor might be covered in dirt or mud, and saw mills are usually very dusty places. Any vacuum handling system operating in such environments must be rugged and easy to maintain.

For that reason, the KHVG model is usually fitted with side-channel blowers acting as external vacuum generators. External vacuum generators are generally able to cope with high levels of dust and dirt, avoiding any risk of system failure due to clogging or build-up. This option might also be useful for applications that require high suction and low vacuum.

Vacuum ejectors offer energy efficiency

Where dust and dirt are not an issue, grippers can instead be fitted with Piab's energy-efficient COAX® vacuum ejectors. This allows the suction capacity to be optimized, resulting in energy and cost savings.

This option is the usual one in Kenos® Vacuum Gripper (KVG), the gripper model dedicated to lighter work, in less challenging timber environments such as furniture factories or warehouses. The KVG is the preferred model for standard loading and unloading tasks, involving parts being fetched from and returned to pallets.

Furniture parts handled with care

Kenos® Vacuum Gripper is the ideal tool for transferring, for instance MDF boards or parts between different machines or production stages where they are cut, glued or laminated, etc. Laminated pieces are handled with the necessary care. As well as holding objects in a firm grip, the foam padding acts as a protective layer, preventing scratches and other damage.

In addition, the gripper's foam padding allows objects of varying sizes to be picked up and held securely. There is no need for the system to be reset between tasks involving parts of different sizes. This enables flexible systems that help make manufacturing procedures more productive, saving time and money.

Modular design adds flexibility

The modular design of Kenos® vacuum grippers adds extra flexibility. The foam padded grippers are easily extendible, and in the standard models each gripper is fitted with between one and four ejection cartridges. However, if necessary, more cartridges can be added. Extensions do not require extensive work - each cartridge is fastened with just one screw.

The flexibility of the grippers also extends to how the air flow is controlled. Kenos® vacuum grippers are offered with two different technologies in order to suit a broad range of applications.

Alternative flow control

In applications where the grippers are used exclusively for handling large boards that cover the entire foam padded area, simple flow reduction technology can be used to control the vacuum. Large boards would cover all the air holes in the foam padding, so there is no need for a more advanced control mechanism. The size of the holes in the foam padding can be used to adapt the flow to suit specific applications. The holes vary in size from 0.6mm to 2mm.

Grippers that need to be more flexible and able to handle small and large objects are fitted with check valves. These will concentrate the vacuum to the holes that are covered by a particular object, eliminating leakage through uncovered holes. As the check valves are based on little balls that need to fall into place, this option works best in horizontal applications, but can be used for grippers operating at angles up to 45 degrees.

The check valves in Kenos® vacuum grippers use balls made of stainless steel, rather than the plastic balls used by many competitors. Plastic balls are not as accurate and are prone to damage due to environmental conditions, such as temperature and moisture.

Easy to maintain

Kenos® vacuum grippers are easy to maintain. For very dusty or dirty applications, filters can be fitted between the foam padding and the vacuum ejector, providing additional protection and avoiding unnecessary maintenance work.

The life of the foam will vary depending on the application. However, customers generally find that the foam padding lasts between six months and one year. The foam padding is glued in place on the grippers, and it is easily removed and replaced when worn out. This simple procedure reduces the stoppage time to a minimum.

Spare parts, including replacement foam and filters, are competitively priced.

Do you want to handle timber products safer?

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