| Automatic Loading Cartoning Machine
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Automatic Loading Cartoning Machine

Automatic Loading Cartoning Machine

In the pharmaceutical industry production line production process, it is very necessary to make full use of the automation mechanism – the automatic cartoning machine is the key equipment for drug outsourcing, and has now developed into a highly automated equipment, but the small medical machine is still loaded with manual , increasesing the production cost and affects the efficiency of the whole line. This design involves the grasping and conveying mechanism of the automatic box-loading robot and transports it to the small box silo. The robot uses PLC to control the action, thus achieving efficient packaging in the pharmaceutical workshop.

In the automatic processing and assembly line, the device can feed the workpiece to the processing or assembly machine can be automatically completed, which is called an automatic loading device. The use of packaging machinery in China’s pharmaceutical industry is becoming more and more promising, and the types of pharmaceutical packaging machinery are becoming more and more numerous. The automatic cartoning machine is one of the more complicated equipments. The modern automatic drug cartoning machine is a diversified and highly automated packaging equipment integrating machine, electricity, light and gas. Therefore, the design of any station will affect the efficiency of the automatic cartoning machine.

Nowadays, the world’s advanced and mature automatic cartoning machine can reach a maximum speed of 450 boxes/min. The cartoning machine reserves a small box silo 1.5-2.0 m, and stores about 800 small boxes. Assuming that the carton has 250 trays per tray, it is a repetitive and cumbersome task to carry the loading at a frequency of about 2 times/min. Therefore, in order to improve productivity and reduce the labor intensity of the operator, it is an urgent task to realize the automation of the carton loading.

The promotion of “Industry 4.0” will break through the boundaries of traditional industries, promote subversive changes in manufacturing, and comprehensively improve the level of manufacturing. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry is facing a huge change, the level of automation of pharmaceutical equipment is improved, and human intervention is reduced. Problems such as reducing personnel costs need to be resolved. The automatic loading device studied in this paper is a module separated from the automatic cartoning machine, mainly for the work of the upper box, realizing the process of sucking, transporting and loading the box. The key to the realization is to use robot technology and intelligent sensing technology to achieve de-artification, saving costs and improving efficiency under the conditions of compliance.

The advancement of intelligent manufacturing, “machine substitution” is a general trend in the manufacturing industry. Industrial robots have become more and more widely used, and have become the driving force for the industry 4.0 process. The introduction of industrial robot technology can realize the automation of production and improve production efficiency. There are many advantages to using industrial robots, mainly in the following four aspects:

  • Cost savings: The robot can operate 24 hours. The production line only needs one person to look after or one person to watch two or more machines at the same time, which saves labor costs. In addition, with the mode of industrial robot operation, the automatic assembly line can save the factory floor, making the whole plant planning smaller, more compact and refined.
  • High production efficiency: The time it takes for an industrial robot to produce a product is fixed. In the same life cycle, the output of the robot is also fixed and will not be high or low. Moreover, the production time of each batch of products is fixed, and the yield of products is also high, which can ensure the comprehensive efficiency of the entire production line.
  • High safety factor: It is produced by industrial robots, which can guarantee the safety of workers’ work. There will be no work accidents caused by work negligence or fatigue. In production workshops where shifts are required, physiological fatigue is more likely to occur at night, resulting in safety accidents, and the use of industrial robots ensures safe production. In addition, some of the more dangerous types of work are operated by industrial robots, which have high precision, good stability and safety.
  • Easy to manage: In the past, it was difficult to accurately guarantee the daily production volume, because there will always be some employees who are lazy. As a supervisor, there are so many things every day, and it is difficult to constantly grasp whether employees are doing things well. After using the robot to produce, the number of workers is reduced, and employee management is more convenient.

The design of the automatic loading device takes into consideration the continuous production of the production line, the continuous stable operation of the design device, and the complete replacement of the manual operation. The industrial robot is used in key parts of the design of the mechanism.



The small box provided by the general supplier is packaged in a 360×360×350 mm carton. The inner box is arranged in 2 rows×4 layers, and each box weighs about 15 kg. The specific arrangement is shown in Figure 1.

The design of this automatic box-up device minimizes the use of two industrial robots based on human intervention. The first industrial robot (ER30, hollow arm, load 30 kg, horizontal arm extension 2 033 mm), mainly to carry the handling and packaging process of the packaging carton; another industrial robot (ER16, hollow arm, load 16 kg, level The wingspan 2 101 mm) mainly implements the handling and loading process of each small box. The two robots cooperate with each other to complete the entire loading process. The specific workflow is as follows:

(1) The ER30 robot draws the carton from the corresponding position of the pallet into the positioner through the imaging device and the suction cup under the clamp; (2) the ER30 robot simultaneously completes the process of switching the mold, ejecting the blade and unpacking; (3) performing the opening operation, After the completion of the signal; (4) ER16 robot and the positioner through the follow-up, and by means of imaging detection through a clamp to clamp a row of cartons, the robot lifts the paws to complete the pre-rotation point; the bottom of the robot rotates, The carton is transported in the direction of the silo; while the bottom of the robot rotates, the extension of the robotic arm is adjusted according to the position of the silo pre-release; (5) The ER16 robot runs through the pre-set point to the placement point of the carton. Release the cassette and place the paper tray; (6) After the ER16 robot has placed a row of paper trays, move to the next pre-grab point, so that the cycle is repeated; (7) When the ER16 robot detects that the carton is finished, the robot will The box end signal is issued; (8) After the next box of cartons is in place, the ER16 robot performs the grabbing work again.


(2) Determination of the position of the suction cup
When all four suction cups are in contact with the magazine, the robot should stop moving downwards and wait for the suction cup to draw a vacuum. Here, the main purpose is to design a travel switch mounted on the suction cup holder. When the four suction cups are in contact with the paper box, the travel switch is depressed, a signal is sent to the PLC, the control robot stops moving downward, and the current position is locked.



The mechanism body design refers to the design of the size of each component and the matching problem between components, as well as the selection and design of various components (including motors, sensors, cylinders, suction cups, etc.). In principle, the range of the trajectories of the robots should not overlap each other. If the design requirements of the mechanism are unavoidable, it should be ensured that no two robots will arrive at the same area at the same time.

The loading of the workpiece usually refers to the work of loading the aligned workpiece into the processing machine fixture, which is the most complicated part of the automatic loading device. The key to the design of the upper box mechanism is to select the most appropriate upper box method according to the shape, weight, characteristics of the carton and the clamp of the processing machine.

Due to the large number of components in the upper box device, the system is relatively large. In order to facilitate the expression and understanding, this paper will design and describe the key stations. It is more difficult to feed the carton that is transported in this design. First of all, it must be ensured that the sheet carton can be effectively and stably clamped; secondly, it must also solve the problem of how to discharge.

The system automatically detects the position of the carton on the pallet that is manually transported by an industrial 2D camera. The industrial camera is like a human eye in the entire system, and images of the objects seen can distinguish various things. The picture of the subject is focused on the camera chip through the optical lens, and the camera completes the conversion, storage, transfer and reading of the photocharges under the driving pulse provided by the driving circuit, thereby converting the optical signal into an electrical signal output for control. This design installs the industrial camera at the end of the industrial robot, so that it can always detect the presence or absence of the carton and accurately determine the position when sucking the carton.

The main function of the suction mechanism is to take the box, that is, take the carton from the manually placed tray, lift it and transport it to the positioner. After the carton is completely taken away, return to the initial position and start the next cycle of the boxing work. Therefore,Suction Cup,Opening&Closing device are designed:

Design of the suction cup
Vacuum suction cups are divided into two types: non-powered and powered: non-powered vacuum suction cups, also known as self-priming vacuum suction cups, which are driven by hooks to draw vacuum from the piston rod. The structure is simple and noise-free, but generally only absorbs very light objects; The vacuum chuck has a vacuum obtained by a vacuum pump or a vacuum generator. The structure is complicated and noisy, but it is widely used due to its high adsorption force and high reliability.


The box-removing mechanism places the carton on the corresponding position of the positioner and starts the unpacking process. The specific mechanism is shown in Figure 4.



The blade in the device is ejected through the cylinder, and the position of the unpacking of the blade is identified by the imaging detection system to ensure the accuracy of the unpacking. The tool uses a white steel knife and a custom tape opening knife, which is more effective than traditional tools. The cylinder adopts multi-axis cylinder, and the multi-axis cylinder has its own guide shaft, which can withstand a certain load of radial force and axial force, which is convenient for cutting.

The motion control of the unsealing mechanism includes: the cutter is mounted on the multi-axis cylinder, and is ejected and retracted by the cylinder movement; the human-machine safety is followed. The cylinder communicates the signal to the PLC via the magnetic switch to communicate with the robot, ensuring that the cutter returns to the zero position each time the tape is unpacked. (The cutter is shrunk inside the metal shield when in the zero position).

The main function of the upper box mechanism is to take a row of cartons from the already opened carton and transport them to a silo position, which is mainly designed for the cassette device.

Taking into account the particularity of the placement of the small box inside the carton, the gripper device uses a pneumatic gripper, which is a cylinder that simulates a person’s fingers to grasp the workpiece to realize the robot’s action. The fixture is entirely made of an aluminum profile frame to reduce the extra load. The jaws are driven by a full cylinder, and the single-sided cylinder is clamped step by step. Since the surface of the small box is relatively smooth, in order to prevent the small box from slipping during the clamping operation, the jaw plate is inlaid with hard rubber to increase the friction. At the same time, an industrial camera is installed for imaging to ensure the stability of the material throughout the transportation process. The specific structure is shown in Figure



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