Automatic Material Flow for Plastic Tanks

Automatic Material Flow and Layer Detection during a Palletization with 3D Laser Scan

Sector: Food

Project Description

The picking and labeling machine transports plastic tanks with beverage concentrate. The material flow controller reads the picking order from the order database and transports the pallets with the right concentrates. The mostly open pallets reach a transfer point and are identified  with a barcode label.

The position of the tanks on the europaletts are identified by a laser scan system. The 3D system scans the position data of a single tank and sends them via MFC to the robot control. The robot takes the tanks with a gripper and puts them together according to the picking orders. The material flow simulator prints the labels for the tanks in the requested font and language.

The material flow system takes the picked pallets to a stretcher and reports to the order data base the finalization of the delivery, The material flow system controls the whole plant and visualizes the processes. When the operator chooses the components on the screen, all stations can be controlled and informations  about status, error reports and hints for troubleshooting are available.

3D Laser System

The 3D laser scan system consists of a 2D laser, which works according to the time of flight method. A laser beam is deflected by a rotating mirror and creates that a point cloud on the surface of the object. The 2D laser is implemented with a linear o rotating axis in order to create a grid.

The evaluation software is a separate program, which reads the position of the servo axles for every measuring line and calculates a 3D profile. A modal analysis filters the measured points and calculates the position. In order to speed up the scan procedure, the measuring window can be limited to the relevant area. The duration of the scan procedure depends on the resolution requirements. For beverage tanks, the duration of scan is about 8 s.

What we did

  • Electro projecting and installation
  • MFR programming and visualizing in C++
  • Programming of 3D scan software with C++
  • Programming of S7 PLC
  • Programming of Monomat robot
  • Commissioning and start up of the plant

Fields of Application

The 3D laser system can be used for all positioning tasks of robots and handling systems. It works independently of ambient light and also in the dark or in foggy environments.

Example of applications in the automatic

  • Order picking, piece recognition during palletization and depalletization
  • Position detection while handling scattered pieces, while detecting filling holes during automatic filling of tanks and barrels
  • Assembly automation, control of the position in workpiece carrier and joining tasks
  • Quality control, e.g. visual inspections for pieces, modules and plastic elements, check for completeness or deformation Baugruppen. It allows a 100% automatic visual inspection, which can be easily integrated in an assembly line
  • Logistic, e.g. material flow in warehouses


Full description (PDF, German)