CLIENT : DuluxGroup

CHALLENGE : Mixing the various powder ingredients of a customised powder-coat product was a labour-intensive process requiring staff to handle and decant loose, heavy bags of powders, in different sizes weighing 20 to 25kg each.
Additionally, the process results in a hazardous work environment saturated with fine powder dust that hangs in the air, potentially to combustible intensities. Other associated hazards include respiratory, dusty flooring, and the need for uncomfortable safety-wear.

SOLUTION : DuluxGroup proactively sought a solution and partnered with RA to develop an automated system that could also concentrate their custom production in one Centralised Make-up Facility. The heart of this system consists of…

Robotic Paint Mixer
The Major Materials Fetching Robot glides down the pallet aisles collecting a list of ingredient powder sacks.
  • The Major Materials Robotic Loading System
  • The Minor Materials Robotic Loading System
  • SCADA system to govern the total solution and take each unique batch order via a database management system connected to Dulux Group’s Management system and staff operated by HMI touch-screens.

With the production schedule assigned, the system checks each recipe against the real-time stock of each ingredient powder stored in either dispensing hoppers or as sacks on pallets and then outputs a loading plan to the 3 robots. These robots are enhanced with extra body and sealing protection to safely work in a combustible “Zone 21” hazardous environment.

These 3 Robotic Chefs now set about their tasks to stock, handle, pour, mix ...or more basically to cook up a perfect powder-coating product to order! Racing back and forth along two 21 metre long tracks, the tasks of these robots include:
  • Fetching sacks of ingredient powder from pallet racks.
  • Opening and decanting the powder from each into 130 different storage hoppers, then disposing empty sacks into a compacting machine for recycling.
  • Tending the 130 ingredient hoppers between 3 mixing machines.
  • Fetching empty pails, weighing & delivering full pails of the final product-mix.
  • Replenishing the powder stocks contained in the 130 mixing hoppers. Ready again for the next custom order!

APPLICATION IN ACTION : (here undergoing testing at RA's facility prior to installation at site.)

MAIN EQUIPMENT :
London MWP Awards
Two MWP Advanced Manufacturing magazine awards won in London for this solution, plus a further 4 local awards: The LAA (Logistics Association of Australia) "Leadership Award", the Manufacturers Monthly magazine "Endeavour Award", the PACE magazine "Zenith Award", and Smart Logistics Conference  "Supply Chain Excellence Award" :Endeavour, Zenith & Smart Awards
  • 3x Motoman HP165 Robots (extended-reach version with 100kg payload).
  • 2x 21 metre servo-tracks with robot mounts.
  • RA-designed end-of-arm tooling.
  • SCADA & Database management systems interfaced with Client's Management System.
  • HMI system (touch-screen operation).

BENEFITS :

  • Increased staff safety.
  • Increased product consistency & quality.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Capability for smaller custom batch-sizes.
  • Redeployment of staff.
  • Reduction in staff injuries & associated costs.
  • Reduced losses to production time.
  • Reduced batch-errors & waste