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Lift system for containers as interface to an AGV

Task: Buffering of containers as an interface to the automated guided vehicle (AGV)

  • An existing automated guided vehicle (AGV) brings an empty container 600x400x280mm to a plastic injection molding machine.

  • After delivery of the empty container, the AGV is to pick up a filled container on a second level and transport it to the customer’s warehouse or for further processing.

  • An interface system is to take over four empty containers one after the other from the AGV and store them temporarily. Care must be taken to ensure that there is sufficient space between the individual container positions to compensate for the tolerances in container provision on the part of the AGV.

  • If there are four empty containers in the intermediate buffer, these should be positioned in a defined way and then transferred to a lift system.

  • The lift station is to provide the four empty containers at a height of 1,750mm to a handling device for loading.

  • Avoidance of debris cones is essential.

  • Once the four containers have been filled, they are to be transported simultaneously to a pickup level at a height of 600mm, where they are to be made available for pickup by the AGV.

  • Safety aspects are to be taken into account in the plant design.

Solution: Buffer system on 3 levels with electric lift

  • A buffer system with electric lift with three levels is developed

  • Pneumatic stoppers are first lowered from above on the supply conveyor for the empty containers so that the container taken from the AGV in each case travels to the stop in the direction of conveyance. The presence of empty containers is monitored by sensors.

  • The staging conveyor is 1,800mm wide (usable width 1,755mm) and thus provides a total of 155mm of empty space for four longitudinally positioned containers, each with a width of 400mm. Thus, the AGV has sufficient tolerance in positioning to deliver the containers side by side.

  • If there are four empty containers on the staging conveyor, a pneumatic pusher presses laterally against the boxes and positions them as a “package” on one side of the conveyor.

  • Once the “package” is positioned, the stoppers in the conveying direction are lifted and the four containers can be transferred in parallel to the lift conveyor and moved from there into the filling position. On the lift conveyor, the useable width is reduced to 1,605mm.

  • The containers in the filling position are moved by approx. 1/3 container length after 50% filling in order to achieve a debris cone reduction.

  • During filling, the AGV places four more empty boxes on the staging conveyor.

  • After filling is complete, the boxes are transferred to the lower level of the flor conveyor – again as a “4-pack”.

  • Since the AGV can only bring/fetch one box at a time per docking process, the filled boxes are stopped individually pneumatically on the pickup conveyor. Only at the respective pick-up position is the box released for transfer to the AGV.

  • Due to the wide and high openings between the two conveyor belt levels, light grids with muting function are used laterally to ensure safe operation of the system.