Océ in Venlo produces the toners for the professional printers of parent company Canon. The packing of the toner in bottles for the Canon varioPRINT 135 has recently been automated by Robertpack. Due to the many different operations this has been quite a challenging project.
Until recently 2 operators had to fill the bottles with toner. These operators had to make a sort of shovelling movement in order to ensure that hardly any mechanical force would arise that could cause lumps to form. Such a human movement is difficult to automate as a robot can't really feel such motions. Still, Robertpack managed to do it.
This total packaging line comprises the depalletisation of the empty plastic bottles, their transport to the filling area, the cleaning, sealing and labelling, the packaging of two in a case and the final palletisation. The line functions fully automatically. The operator only has to take care of the logistics around the filling line, such as supplying pallets with empty bottles on time, transporting away full pallets and occasionally replenishing the carton warehouse of the bedo case erector. Due to the high quality requirements demanded by Océ, the bedo case erector and case sealer supplied by Robertpack also fit in perfectly with this high-tech toner filling line.
The two Fanuc robots carry out diverse complex actions that are independent from each other and are equipped with multifunctional grippers. The first robot picks up the empty bottle from the pallet and places it on the feed belt that supplies the filling station. This robot also removes the layer pads and places the full bottles in twos in a case and places the case on a pallet. Each supply and discharge point has room for two pallets, so that the operator does not have to stop during a changeover. The second robot completes the filling process step-by-step. The robot first picks up the bottles in twos from the discharge belt and places them in the cleaning station, which vacuum cleans the bottles.
Afterwards the robot positions the bottles under the two filling spouts, whereby they simulate the ‘shovelling’ movement that the operator once made. Afterwards the bottles go to the sealing station where the robot presses the seal onto the bottle and a labelling machine affixes a tamper evident label. The supply line to the case packing station turns every second bottle 180 degrees to avoid the chance of the seals coming against one another and opening.
Robertpack is familiar with many components and processes, though the filling in a potentially explosive atmospheres was new to us. Océ therefore took us through the ATEX guidelines regarding explosive atmospheres. By working closely with Océ we managed to successfully build a well functioning and safe line.
There was talk of placing a second line in the future, but the capacity of the new toner filling line turned out to be so high that this will suffice for Océ for some time. www.oce.com