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JAM Automation moves 550lb heavy profiles with Piab’s Kenos® grippers

Handling of heavy aluminium profiles with Piab's Kenos® KVG area vacuum grippper

The Kenos® KVG area vacuum grippers from Piab are an excellent alternative where mechanical grippers cannot find any gaps. Because they simply pick up the products from above. This also applies to the automated removal of extruded aluminium profiles from cassettes in high-bay warehouses.

When designing a complex automation solution for the electronics industry, the system integrator JAM Automation was faced with the question of how to take various aluminum extrusion profiles with a weight between 45lb and 550lb easily and without retooling from a cassette in a high-bay warehouse. Until now, the end customer who commissioned the machine loading system carried out this step manually, which often required two employees who were missing in other production steps. This is a common problem with expansion. If automation is carried out at one point in the process and thus higher productivity is achieved, the need in upstream and downstream areas increases. Accordingly, employees cannot stand by for manual withdrawals.

“Our first idea was to use a mechanical gripper to remove the profiles,” explains Michael Voss, Managing Director of JAM Automation in Radevormwald, Germany, “but because the profiles are close together in the cassette, there is no space between them for the gripper to grab. Therefore, looking for a different solution, we contacted Thomas Platte, our technical advisor at Sehrbrock GmbH in Nordkirchen, Germany, who introduced us to a small area gripper for cobots - Piab's Kenos® KCS gripper - two years ago."

"After consulting with Guido Bredlau, the Piab specialist, we were able to organize a joint appointment at short notice, at which JAM Automation could directly test different sizes of the Kenos® KVG area vacuum grippers from Piab," adds Thomas Platte. “Two strong men from JAM Automation tried to pull the profile off the area vacuum grippers in a realistic test setup. Even with combined forces, they were not able to separate the profile from the gripper, which convinced JAM Automation of the efficiency of the vacuum system."

To be able to handle the largest profiles of 3 meters in length and 40 cm in width with 550lb, three Kenos® KVG area vacuum grippers from Piab with a length of 90 cm each were screwed one behind the other with a profile that is attached to a linear robot. The horizontal movement is done electrically, while the lowering is done pneumatically.

Since the gripper surface does not have to be completely covered with this type of vacuum gripper to ensure a secure hold, the system is suitable for different profile widths. This means that it can be used flexibly enough for future process changes even if the profiles should become narrower. The reason for this are the ball valves inherent in the system, which automatically close the suction points that are not covered by the product.

The Kenos® KVG series from Piab represents a flexible solution for handling products with different shapes and dimensions. Thanks to the double technology available (check valves and flow restrictors), many applications in the industrial sector can be covered. The KVG gripping system can be equipped with an integrated vacuum ejector or a separate vacuum generator by means of a pump or side channel blower. The integrated vacuum generator is a modular, multi-stage COAX® ejector which, even after installation, offers easy maintenance and the possibility of being scaled as required. The suction mat of the KVG gripping system is made of technical foam (FDA-compliant mat is also available), with different hole spacings and in different thicknesses. The KVG120C and KVG60C can be equipped with suction cups from the extensive Piab range. Typical applications are palletizing and handling in the packaging, metal, glass, and wood industries.

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