Robotics made easier for food and beverage applications

Tuesday, 30 July, 2019 | Supplied by: SMC Australia | New Zealand


SMC has added to its portfolio the Wireless Fieldbus System EX600-W, which is being used for applications in the food, beverage and packaging industries. Designed to make robotic applications easier, the decentralised fieldbus solution is EtherNet/IP and PROFINET compatible.

In a recent Australian application, SMC collaborated with SunRice (Ricegrowers Limited) — an Australian company with a footprint in 50 countries. SunRice welcomed CopRice to its portfolio more than 40 years ago; CopRice manufactures and supplies quality livestock feeds. The manufacturing process includes rice brokens, rice bran and rice hulls, which are supplied through the rice milling process.

CopRice’s primary Robotic Palletiser is crucial to its business. Used daily, the 500 kg payload robot is fitted with a SAS Fork tine gripper to pick and place stock feed SKUs. With various sized bags needing to be palletised, the gripper tines had to be in different positions when picking up these bags to ensure that the best-quality products are stacked onto pallets for customers.

In terms of the application, the robot gripper needed to adjust the gripper tines automatically for each SKU as it was being palletised. The problems that it faced in the past were a limited number of inputs and outputs, expensive fieldbus modules and failed solutions due to vibrations on the gripper.

Ricegrowers Engineering partnered with SMC to develop a customised solution for CopRice. SMC’s wireless fieldbus system — the EX600-W — was specifically specified and customised for this application. The customer has reported that the solution was easy to install and they received good technical and sales support.

According to Ming Liu, Head of Product and Pricing Group at SMC Corporation ANZ: “This wireless fieldbus system can manage both digital and analog signals, as well as pneumatic products, making it a flexible solution for all applications.

“The EX600-W is small and lightweight, fits onto the robot head, has minimal wiring, offers remote control and fault finding, among other features,” he continued.

The product is also compliant with the all applicable Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) requirements and has been registered to use the regulatory compliance mark (the RCM) in AU and NZ.

The Wireless Fieldbus System EX600-W for Robotic Application is on Display at FoodTech Qld 2019 today in Brisbane. To demonstrate the device, SMC is showcasing a fully functional cobot (collaborative robot) that is fitted with this wireless fieldbus unit.

The product won the award for Technical Innovation of the Year at this year’s Motion Control Awards in the UK.

Image credit: ©

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