Automatica 2016 is the leading trade fair for industrial automation and mechatronics held in Munich, Germany. Wiley Process Engineer, Heath Barker, has a passion for robotics and automation is attending the event. We love sharing knowledge from these events with our network to help us all reach peak performance and ensure our global food security into the future.
Heath reported back “my favourite find on day two was the Festo gripper concept. It’s called the FlexShapeGripper and is still a prototype. I was lucky to have my own demonstration. The simple clean-ability of the Festo FlexShapeGripper will make this style of gripper very popular for food handling.”
The FlexShapeGripper is modelled off the tongue gripping design of a chameleon and can basically engulf almost any object you throw at it. The capability to pick up differing shapes and sizes is great, but to top it off, it can also pick up multiple objects at once.
Watch this video by Festo for more information:
Heath’s next interesting find was an ASRS system from Servus. Their shuttles are autonomous vehicles and can have attachments mounted on them such as robotic arms. This is a very interesting concept for companies generating custom crate contents. In the photo below you can see an example of this.
The blue shuttle has the robotic arm attached to one half to allow picking and placing of unusual shaped crates and other objects for transport, as well as the movement of some products from one crate to another.
Here is a quick video that Heath took of a conveying system that highlights where we are heading in future:
The Beckhoff XTS (eXtended Transport System) conveyance system is basically one big linear drive. The speed, accuracy and accumulation capabilities are very impressive.
“Finally, for today I wanted to show the current state of AGVs. Below is a short video of a unit at the enormous Fanuc stand trying to deliver crates to a palletiser somewhere. It is travelling between and around guests and stops and moves to avoid them. It was also telling people off for being in the way while it was trying to work. Quite funny really!”
Wiley see AGVs performing a critical role in food factories that have a few low flow rate products. Rather than installing dedicated conveyors that hinder egress, or having a stock of mobile conveyors that are time consuming, why not just set up a mobile robotic platform to collect these products and take them where they are needed.
“I can’t wait for day 3. I hope to duck over to the InterSolar and the EES Europe (Battery technology) halls tomorrow” Heath said.