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Omron Automation manufactures intelligent automation product lines including: industrial robots, mobile robots, and other flexible automation equipment, machine vision and systems, plus software. Omron provides cost-effective robotics systems and services to high-growth markets including Packaged Goods, Life Sciences, Electronics and Semiconductor; as well as traditional industrial markets including machine tool automation and automotive components.

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Odecopack Implements Omron's Sysmac Platform to Revolutionize Palletizing Process

POSTED 03/05/2024  | By: Renato Osaki, Product Manager - Motion and Robotics

Efficient stacking of finished products for distribution is critical for downstream customers' on-time delivery and upstream suppliers' costs. Inefficient or poor quality stacking of different or similar-sized finished goods can lead to increased material costs, excessive logistics lead times, and unnecessary overtime shifts. Odecopack specializes in automation solutions for palletizing as an Omron Certified System Integrator. This certification ensures that Odecopack has met Omron's standards for expertise and proficiency in integrating Omron's advanced technologies into their solutions. By leveraging their expertise as a certified system integrator, Odecopack offers off-the-shelf solutions that increase output with minimal manual efforts and safer operations. Additionally, Odecopack can create custom solutions to address uncommon palletizing applications, giving facilities a performance edge in a hyper-competitive market.

Challenges/Problem:

The tight labor markets and increasing consumer demand for ecommerce retail transactions drive the need for efficient palletizing processes in distribution and packaging facilities. Inefficient stacking can lead to underutilized delivery trucks and even ergonomics-safety compliance violations. These challenges are compounded by increasing industry competition, cost pressures, and seasonal consumer demand. To ensure a positive return on investment (ROI) in automation, packaging and distribution facilities must carefully vet and validate capital projects. Commonly with a payback period target of less than two years. Automated palletizing processes aim to minimize waste through Lean Six Sigma, but the layout requirements of operations constantly change, requiring flexible automation. Without built-in flexible and automated palletizing equipment, facilities can accumulate technical debt, delaying future projects and increasing capital project payback periods.

Integration between servos, controllers, and safety devices can be costly, complicated and slow without an all-in-one motion, control, and safety automation platform. Traditional automation methods suffer from inefficiencies due to multiple software packages required to control all devices, firmware incompatibility, motion network latency, and multiple communication protocols. Even with extra effort to address motion axis jitter and accommodate safety controllers, OEMs may struggle to meet safety standards and cycle time targets while maintaining automation flexibility and ensuring a strong ROI.

Solution:

Through years of industry experience, Odecopack addresses these prevalent challenges by collaborating with Omron Automation to create effective palletizing products. By choosing Omron's Sysmac all-in-one automation platform as the foundation for their machines, Odecopack is able to simultaneously eliminate the integration challenges between motion, control, and safety to increase overall efficiencies of the final pack out process. The integration of a Sysmac machine automation controller with servo drivers and a safety controller using the EtherCAT® network allow for precise movement control over the four coordinated axes on the cartesian palletizer that features a distinctive Core-XY motion platform. The EtherCAT® refresh rate paired with guaranteed packet delivery creates the deterministic motion required to offer an integrated system with higher motion and safety performance. This, in turn, provides end users with a solution to remove their dependency on manual intensive tasks in the palletizing operation by reducing heavy physical strain on employees and increasing cycle time throughput.

To further increase the power of the Odecopack solutions, Odecopack goes one step further by using multiple Frequency Inverters to control the speed, acceleration and rotation of conveyors. Optimizing the transportation of boxes and pallets for each shift during cyclic seasonal requirements. To maximize pallet space while ensuring stability of loaded pallet is critical for both reducing cycle time and maximizing worker safety. The synchronized movement of the cartesian system's four axes with all motion servos allows for the best route selection with a smooth trajectory, no matter the package coming down the variable speed conveyor.

To stand out in a competitive industrial landscape, Odecopack focuses on solutions tailored to specific industry needs of end users, rather than solely focusing on cost-cutting. Due to tight competition, it can be difficult to offer consistent solutions without providing an above market ROI of the entire scenario. The need for customization with palletizing packages of a variety of different shapes and sizes is ever-growing. The logistics industry is looking for solutions where they can fully customize palletizing to be more efficient with package type and dimension consolidation. Odecopack and Omron have created a solution to give customers a solution today by reducing technical debt to provide the opportunity to leverage additional efficiencies in the future.

Results and Benefits:

The benefits of the Omron Sysmac platform extend beyond labor and efficiency improvements during operation to the hidden costs in commissioning by increasing first pass yield. Sysmac’s One Controller, One Connection, and One Software integrate control, safety and user interface in the same network with the use of a single software, Sysmac Studio. Here, Odecopack engineers leverage the function block library, enabling quick and easy axes synchronization by eliminating rungs of ladder logic. To support version control on the plant floor, the function blocks are lockable.  To ensure safety performance alongside motion precision during 3D simulation, safety controllers are programmed in the exact same development environment. Having both safety and motion control in the same program, Odecopack gathers valuable data from the machine’s devices to introduce safety functions such as active torque limitations which prevent damage to products or the machine itself. To top it all off, Odecopack reduces wiring and sensor replacement downtime by using IO Link decentralized I/O modules enhancing overall system flexibility and adaptability.

The implementation of the Omron Sysmac platform yields significant results and benefits for Odecopack’s users. One of the immediate outcomes was a reduction in commissioning time to integrate the Odecopack solution into their existing systems. The intuitive and efficient programming capabilities of the Sysmac platform streamlined the implementation process, allowing the unique Odecopack solution to be up and running faster than ever before. Sysmac also allows a reduction in downtime that not only increases productivity, but also facilitates possible changes to the machine functionality, providing Odecopack with the flexibility to adapt to evolving industry needs. By consolidating motion, safety, and control features into one software package, the Sysmac platform enables the harmonization and synchronization of the palletizer's four axes. This synchronization not only improved accuracy and throughput but also makes troubleshooting more efficient through motion simulation, reducing downtime further. This saves valuable time that would have been spent searching for issues. The integrated motion controller improves the trajectory of the mechanical systems, resulting in smoother movements and reduced cycle time.

The integration of the EtherCAT® network in the Sysmac platform enhances motion accuracy, safety, and control. The exceptional real-time performance and high-speed communication capabilities of EtherCAT®, along with the Safety over EtherCAT (FSoE) feature, allows for the integration of safety-related functions into the same network. This eliminates the need for separate safety networks, simplifying the overall system architecture and overall solution cost. The use of EtherCAT (FSoE) enabled Odecopack to achieve a higher Safety Category in the servo motors' safety stop control, ensuring operational safety and compliance with safety standards. The compact size of Omron controllers, IO, and servo systems enables Odecopack to achieve a remarkable reduction in the size of the control panel by using less components and wiring. This not only contributed to a more compact palletizer design but also resulted in cost savings on materials.

The adoption of the Omron Sysmac platform brings significant results and benefits for Odecopack. The reduction in commissioning time, optimization of control performance, leveraging of the EtherCAT® network, panel size reduction, and future-proofing capabilities all contribute to increasing productivity, improving efficiency, and enhancing safety. Odecopack building their unique solution in the Sysmac platform not only addresses immediate challenges but also positions Odecopack customers for long-term success in the industry.

Conclusion:

The success of Odecopack highlights the positive impact that advanced automation solutions can have on industrial manufacturing as a whole. By addressing the challenges of labor shortages, customization needs, and flexibility requirements, Odecopack is significantly improving their productivity, efficiency, and operator well-being. By doing so, Odecopack is not only improving their own operations but has also setting a precedent for the industry. The integration of Omron's controllers, servo drivers, and safety components through the EtherCAT® network allows for precise control of movement, eliminating the need for undervalued manual labor, and reducing physical strain on employees. Using intuitive programming software and the consolidation of motion, safety, and control features has streamlined processes and improved overall control performance. These solutions demonstrate the transformative power of automation in the packaging industry, paving the way for increased productivity, improved safety, and long-term success.