Visitors to the interpack show in Düsseldorf, Germany can experience the latest advances in Mitsubishi Electric’s Smart Carriage technology which have been developed in cooperation with e F@ctory Alliance partner APT Automation.

The newly modified prototype features high-speed performance, on-board intelligence, real-time synchronisation with other processes, assured safety and the ability to switch between vertical as well as horizontal tracks. 

The Smart Carriage addresses industry challenges such as greater production line flexibility, improved productivity and increased overall equipment effectiveness. It offers significant benefits in a range of industry sectors, but perhaps most significantly in both secondary and end-of-line packaging applications within the Food and Beverage as well as Life Science industries. Possible applications include magic belt product grouping, side loaders, wrap-around cartoners, shrink wrappers, as well as transport packing applications in conjunction with carton assemblers, robot top loaders, carton closers and palletising robots.

Data and intelligence are on-boardBy offering on-board intelligence and data memory, as well as integrated power for on-carriage devices such as sensors, the Smart Carriage can store product information and production data. It can then communicate information from one station to the next which also allows the carriage to detect different products and then decide on optimum routes and destinations. This is supported by a high maximum speed of 4m/sec, plus, acceleration / deceleration of 3g and a positioning accuracy of ±0.01mm. With this solution, packaging conveyors are entering a new era of speed and accuracy. Together, these features considerably increase the efficiency and flexibility of the packaging process.While equipment on a carriage can employ Wi-Fi, for example for data readouts, the linear transfer system provides a physical wired connection to the Smart Carriage. This delivers real-time capability, for example providing synchronisation between the carriages and a robot. Further, with an integrated safety scanner, the linear transfer system can operate in an unguarded environment, optimising both production line flexibility and plant floor utilisation without compromising safety.

A Smart Carriage can also switch between parallel packaging tracks on the linear transfer system, depending on event sequences. For even greater flexibility, the Smart Carriages on the linear transfer system now support 3D Multi-layer motion, with carriages able to switch between both horizontal and vertical tracks on production lines. This means that different product related processes can be matched to the product, and at a later date merged again intelligently on the rails. The result is significantly higher plant utilisation, greatly increased flexibility and decreased redundancy. Additional features of the system include a very small minimum distance of less than 1mm between Smart Carriages on a single track, thus driving further gains in productivity. 

All of these capabilities are highlighted in a working demonstration on the Mitsubishi Electric stand showing a high-speed, real-time application with on-board intelligence. Visitors can discuss with experts from Mitsubishi Electric how the Linear Transfer System with Smart Carriage technology could bring benefits to their individual packaging line applications. 

interpack 2017, Düsseldorf, 04th-10th May 2017, Hall 6, Stand C64