Since its introduction at SPS IPC Drives 2016, the prototype of a brand new Linear Transfer System with Smart Carriage technology from Mitsubishi Electric and e-F@ctory partner APT Automation has already benefited from significant developments.
The Smart Carriage – developed specifically, to operate with the dedicated linear transfer system – delivers onboard intelligence plus integrated power for on-carriage equipment.
Thanks to the physical wired connection between the Linear Transfer System and the Smart Carriage, the system is able to react in real-time, for example providing synchronization between the carriages and a robot. Wi-Fi will still be available for data readout, with no risk of interference.
The intelligent Linear Transfer System now supports the ability to switch between horizontal as well as vertical tracks on production lines allowing multiple operations on different products in even more sophisticated production environments.
With an integrated safety scanner, the Linear Transfer System can operate in an unguarded environment, with assured safety as prescribed under the Machinery Directive. The modified prototype showing a high-speed, real-time application with onboard intelligence was exhibited at interpack 2017.
Smart Carriage technology: At the forefront of the digital revolution
- Developed in conjunction with e-F@ctory partner APT Automation, the Smart Carriage with onboard intelligence delivers new levels of flexibility for the global manufacturing sector, with vastly increased flexibility for packaging processes and the promise of smaller batch sizes and ever greater levels of customisation for manufacturers.
- Able to travel up to 4m/sec with loads up to 5kg, or at lower acceleration and speed with a maximum payload of 12kg, the Smart Carriage is equipped with 24VC on-board power, enabling it to power sensors, grippers and actuators while in transit.
Real-time capability for autonomous decision-making
- In keeping with the increasing demands of digitalisation, the Linear Transfer System enables reconfiguring of production lines in real time.
- A wireless connection between the Linear Transfer System and the Smart Carriage itself allows the system to react in real time, and because the system is equipped with Mitsubishi Electric Servo Motion Technology, it can allow for such self-directing actions as synchronisation with Mitsubishi Electric’s MELFA industrial robots.
- Built on standard components, the Smart Carriage retains detailed information about its course and is able to track and trace the condition of goods at any given time on the conveyor. It is told where to go, but it has the ability to get there autonomously.
- An advanced data memory enables the Smart Carriage to detect products, determine optimum routes and destinations, collect and store product information and communicate between stations, higher level MES systems and databases.
3D Multi-layer plant flexibility
- Smart Carriages have the ability to switch between horizontal and vertical production line tracks, which means that multiple operations on different products can be carried out in ever more sophisticated production environments.
- A Smart Carriage can switch between parallel packaging tracks, allowing different product-related processes to be matched to the product and then merged intelligently on the rails at that moment or at a later date.
- Plant lines can auto-reconfigure during the production process, based on order requirements and the capacity available at various destinations. The result is appreciably higher plant utilisation and greatly increased flexibility.
- The low minimum distance between Smart Carriages on a single track – a minimum spacing of less than 1mm – means that the number of carriages which can be employed on a track can be increased, with significant concomitant gains in productivity.
Advanced Safety System
With integrated Safety Zone Scanner functionality to detect the presence of operators and reduce carriage speed to a safe level, the Linear Transfer System can be operated in a fenceless environment, resulting in increased plant availability. Moreover, the Smart Carriage supports both STO and SLS, further enhancing its safety credentials.
With 3g acceleration and braking, the Smart Carriage can self-position at considerable speed, with a positioning and repeat accuracy of plus or minus 0.1mm, without supplementary technology. Specially developed collision-avoidance technology prevents impacts, even with large numbers of carriages moving along the rails at high speeds.