Highly flexible transport systems, such as the Multi-Carrier-System, offer maximum flexibility with the highest productivity and thus enable the optimization of manufacturing processes by means of automated systems. In cooperation with the plant manufacturer ROTZINGER PharmaPack GmbH, the Zimmer Group has equipped a Multi-Carrier feeder with 32 grippers of the GEP2000 series. The specific task was the handling of 300g cookie packs. The Zimmer Group solution shows how the complexity and flexibility of this process was improved by means of intelligent handling components.

Freely positionable and wireless

The company ROTZINGER PharmaPack GmbH needed a gripping system for a multi-carrier system for handling individual cookie packs that would meet the requirements of the linear drives. In particular, the cabling in a circulation system usually poses a great challenge. Here, several grippers are installed one behind the other on the movers and move with the circulating belt. Conventional cabling can quickly become a disruptive contour in the process flow here, especially if, as in this case, a large number of end effectors are used.

In addition, as with all modern automation solutions, maximum flexibility is also required in circulation systems. Statically mounted communication modules for the moving end effectors prevent a smooth process flow, as the workpieces to be gripped must be in the correct position at a specific time. For maximum productivity, the system must be flexible and allow interrogation via the end effector in order to variably grip workpieces. The challenge, therefore, was to set the grippers to move freely without hindering the smooth running of the system with additional cables.

But how can this flexibility of the grippers be guaranteed? The solution lies in IO-Link wireless gripper technology, which ensures real-time wireless communication between the gripper's sensors/actuators and the PLC controller. IO-Link capability was thus another important basic requirement for the gripper selection. Added to this were the limited dimensions of the carrier, which specified a maximum width of 50 mm.

Small installation space, large stroke: the GEP2010 as a solution

The Zimmer Group solved these challenges with the GEP2010. The gripper is IO-Link-capable, which means it is easy to set up and can be controlled wirelessly with the help of a supplementary component. The combination of Bridge Communication Module (BCM), which is attached to the end effector, and Master Communication Module (MCM) on the PLC module ensures effective and secure communication between the partners. Data is exchanged within a few milliseconds. This fast data transfer makes it possible to achieve the customer's required cycle time without any problems. The 32 individual grippers are easily supplied with power via a non-contact power supply. In the multi-carrier system of ROTZINGER PharmaPack GmbH, further advantages of the GEP2000 series come into play: The GEP2010 impresses with its compact size combined with a large stroke. The electric gripper series also boasts a long service life of up to 10 million maintenance-free cycles.

The IO-Link connection of the end effectors not only ensures flexible positioning, but also enables simple parameterization of the system, permanent position detection of the gripper jaws and uncomplicated addition of further grippers as required. In addition, wireless information transmission minimizes possible sources of error due to cable breakage and thus the need to replace wear parts. In addition, the existing interface between the modules offers maximum flexibility, making many other possible applications conceivable, for example in the pharmaceutical industry, consumer goods or intralogistics.

Communicate wirelessly

With wireless communication between the end effector and BCM/MCM, the Zimmer Group is hitting a nerve with the requirements of production plants such as those at ROTZINGER PharmaPack GmbH. In addition to cost-effectiveness and flexibility, the provision of reliable, uncomplicated process and status information is a key requirement. With its extensive portfolio of IO-Link end effectors, which can also be controlled wirelessly thanks to BCM, the Zimmer Group creates the basis for networked production. As an experienced partner, the company supports its customers worldwide from all industries with comprehensive advice and on-site service. In doing so, the Zimmer Group accompanies its customers from the development of intelligent, networked automation solutions through to implementation and beyond.

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