End-of-line packaging operations are among the most optimal tasks to automate due to their repetitive nature, consistency requirements, and the ergonomic issues they can present for humans.

To show how end-of-line palletizing operations can be flexibly automated, TopTier (Booth N-5906) s showcasing its low-infeed mechanical palletizers and robotic palletizer cells at PACK EXPO International.

TopTier’s high- and low-infeed mechanical palletizer models share common functional modules and frame systems to allow users to maximize layout flexibility and reduce cost because no customization is required. This common modular architecture also provides for increased manufacturing rates, machine controls efficiencies, and palletizing rates of more than four layers per minute. 

The controls architecture is based on an Allen-Bradley PLC running universal PLC and HMI code modules. The PLC and HMI code is compiled for the specific palletizer configuration from the universal code.

Allen-Bradley’s Factory Talk HMI screens on the palletizers are designed for comprehensive access to palletizer functionality, including automatic and manual operations, pattern selection and programming, back-up, recovery operations, safety status, and maintenance logs. The HMI’s PC provides additional functionality options such as data collection, video machine monitoring interface, host interface, presentation of operations, maintenance, and training videos.

TopTier’s EasyStack palletizer programming software can build any pallet pattern, with up to 99 patterns stored for instant accessibility. End users can also create new patterns using the HMI touch screen.

Safety has been integrated into the palletizer design to achieve category 3, PL-d per EN ISO 13849-1 safety standard based on controlled entrance protocols using light curtain protection of load exit, redundant hoist fall protection, and controlled door entrance protocols. A Sick Flexi Soft programmable safety controller manages all safety functions on the palletizer. The Flexi Loop network controls the doors and monitors the hoist latches.

As with its mechanical palletizers, TopTier’s robotic cell palletizers combine Allen-Bradley controller and HMI technology with the EasyStack pattern programming software, meaning that no robot programming is required. In these robotic palletizers, the HMI screens provide a control environment for both robot arm movement and palletizer build patterns. Operators can adjust pattern positions using drag-and-drop or exact values. The HMI screens provide access to palletizer functionality including automatic and manual operations, pattern selection and setup, system status, alarm, and maintenance logs.

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