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Automation solution for a handling and transfer unit

  • RTT: handling and transfer unit with 4 yellow robot arms

Intelligent handling of standpipes

The custom machine manufacturer RTT required a customized automated standpipe handling solution for an end customer in the roof drainage sector. SEW‑EURODRIVE provided the complete drive and automation solution for the system consisting of four SCARA robots, including the kinematic models for component removal.

The project at a glance

RTT logo, blue font on white background
  • Customer: RTT Robotertechnik-TRANSFER GmbH
  • Location: Zittau, Germany
  • Sector: Special machine design
  • Application: Handling and transfer unit for standpipes

More about RTT:

  • Founded in 1990 as an offshoot of the "robot-assisted processing technology" research group at the Zittau University of Applied Sciences
  • Around 100 employees at the Zittau location
  • Customized solutions for customer-specific manufacturing and handling tasks in a range of industries
View from below of the system's 4 yellow SCARA robots and red drives from RTT
View from below of the system's 4 SCARA robots from RTT
View from below of the system's 4 SCARA robots from RTT
  • Handling and transfer unit guided along the ceiling with four SCARA robots
  • Lightweight robot arms
  • 12 meters of travel
  • Transport and adjustable positioning of standpipes of different geometries
  • Special design with specific robotics kinematic model
Yellow robot arm with 3 red servo gearmotors for transfer and gripping motions
Robot arm with 3 servo gearmotors for transfer and gripping motions
Robot arm with 3 servo gearmotors for transfer and gripping motions
  • One helical-bevel servo gearmotor per robot arm for feed along the ceiling support
  • Two ZN..CMP.. precision servo gearmotors per robot arm for the motion of the upper arm and forearm
  • Consistent automation using the
  • MOVI-C® modular automation system, in which all components are perfectly tailored to each other
  • MOVIDRIVE® modular application inverter
  • MOVI-C® CONTROLLER progressive for central control
  • MOVIKIT® Robotics software module
  • Simulation and programming of the customer-specific removal kinematic models
Robot arm with vacuum gripper and suction plates
The SCARA robots work in pairs or independently of each other
The SCARA robots work in pairs or independently of each other
  • Automation of the robotics system from a single source
  • Compact, lightweight solution
  • Seamless transition from the cutting machine to downstream placement on pallets
  • Precise positioning and fast, repeatable movement of large loads
  • Motor data is transferred to the connected network in real time through the inverter
  • Automatic inventory of all drives in the system at the push of a button
  • Close, active collaboration between RTT and SEW‑EURODRIVE during system development
  • Complete simulation of the system during project planning

Success through close collaboration in development

Two yellow lightweight SCARA robots with red servo gearmotors
Two lightweight SCARA robots with servo gearmotors

RTT, the custom machine manufacturer from Zittau, was tasked with creating a customized automated handling solution for an end customer, a well-known manufacturer of roof drainage systems and drainpipes. The objective was to remove standpipes with lengths from 25 centimeters to 4 meters and weights of up to 30 kilograms from the laser cutting machine after the cutting process, transport them, and finally to place them on pallets for packing. The handling and transfer unit needed to weigh as little as possible and fit in the limited space available on site.

SEW‑EURODRIVE provided the entire drive and automation solution for this system, which consists of four SCARA robots and is guided along the ceiling. It was clear from the beginning that the application specialists from SEW‑EURODRIVE would closely and actively involve RTT in the planning and development of the tailor-made system and the associated robot kinematic model based on the MOVI-C® modular automation system and would share their expert knowledge.

Quote Mike Müller, technical director at RTT

Multiple custom machines already created with SEW‑EURODRIVE

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Quote Andreas Richter, head of SEW‑EURODRIVE's Dresden Technical Office

We know the math

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Impressions of the project

The project in detail

SCARA robot arms handle standpipes in a small space

2 yellow SCARA robot arms
SCARA robot arms are made to imitate human arms
SCARA robot arms are made to imitate human arms

Everyone knows them: Standpipes are used, for example, to conduct water from rainwater downspouts from roofs into the sewer system. They are also installed in hydrants as part of the water-conducting equipment.

Handling these metal pipes was the objective of the system project carried out by the custom machine company RTT for one of its customers. The standpipes can weigh up to 30 kilograms and be up to four meters long and after they have been cut to length, they have to be removed from the production line and transported over a distance of 12 meters to then be bundled and packed on pallets. The solution: a handling and transfer unit with four SCARA robots which hangs from the ceiling and is guided along a linear axis.

SCARA stands for "selective compliance assembly robot arm". This is an articulated robotic arm made to imitate a human arm. In the handling and transfer unit from RTT, the gripping range of the complete SCARA arm (extended "upper arm and forearm") measures 2,200 millimeters.

The four SCARA robots can be operated independently of each other. Depending on its length, one pipe may also require two arms. In this case, the two arms operate together on one side of the linear axis. In a perfectly synchronized duet, this pair can handle heavy standpipes up to four meters long. Each of the four lightweight SCARA gripping arms also has a vacuum gripper with correspondingly strong suction plates.

Zero-backlash servo drives for challenging kinematic models

2 red servo gearmotors on the SCARA robot
Servo gearmotors for X-transfer and motion of the robot arm
Servo gearmotors for X-transfer and motion of the robot arm

Each of the SCARA robot arms is equipped with three servo drives. One of these, a BS.F..CMPZ.. helical-bevel servo gearmotor, serves as the X-axis drive and moves the robotic gripping arm along the linear axis. The CMPZ.. motor offers additional rotor inertia especially for such applications with high load moments of inertia.

The other two drives are precision servo gearmotors equipped with two-stage cycloid planetary gearmotors from the ZN.. series. They move the gripping arm itself – one moves the "forearm" and the other moves the "upper arm" of the gripper.

These precision servo gearmotors are characterized by their high resistance to torsion and tilting and their exceptional mechanical backlash properties and overload capacity. This allows for reliable solutions to demanding applications in which exact positioning and fast, repeatable movements are required even with large loads. Thanks to their remarkably compact design, these ZN.. gearmotors fit in even the smallest of spaces.

Central control of the four robot arms

MOVIDRIVE® modular application inverter in the control cabinet
MOVIDRIVE® modular application inverter in the control cabinet
MOVIDRIVE® modular application inverter in the control cabinet

The use of our MOVI-C® modular automation system means that all the components – from the engineering software for the control and inverter technology to the motors – work together perfectly. The benefit for RTT and its end customer: The entire automation solution for the robotics system comes from a single source.

The MOVIDRIVE® modular application inverter used for the handling and transfer unit is a flexibly configurable multi-axis system. Another key component of the system is the custom implementation of the complex kinematic models using our MOVIKIT® Robotics software module.

The kinematic models for component removal were completely simulated as early as the project planning phase. Based on the results of this simulation, our application engineers were able to design and optimize the drives specifically for this application. This also allowed the system to be put into operation for the end customer particularly quickly.

Thanks to the preconfigured MOVIKIT® Robotics software module, the kinematic models for the SCARA gripping arms could be parameterized quickly and easily. Only a few commands in the SEW robot language were necessary to precisely define the motion sequences.

Another benefit of our automation solution: The "robot monitor" user interface provided the perfect overview for operation during startup. Even complex functions can be easily mastered with this clear and intuitive user interface. It shows a three-dimensional representation of the kinematic models of the robots and provides accurate insight into the traveled paths.

The project managers from both RTT and the end customer were highly satisfied with the time savings achieved with this method. And especially because it provides the opportunity to adapt the system quickly and easily to future changes.

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