Motion Cube brings automation one step closer to Industry 4.0: with this innovative palletising system from Festo, pallets transport workpieces independently and simultaneously to different assembly stations. This unusual concept led an independent technical jury to select Motion Cube for a Handling Award 2015 in the category "Automation and Robotics".
Motion Cube consists of individual modules with a drive mechanism in a housing shaped like a cube. The drive mechanism transports individual pallets from one module to the next and allows specific assembly tasks to be carried out. The modules are combined to form matrixes, depending on the application in question.
Motion Cube enables different products to be handled in parallel. This makes simultaneous processes possible for the first time and saves time. In contrast to a classic conveyor system, several travel commands can be carried out at the same time. Individual pallets can be overtaken and workstations can be skipped.
Total Industry 4.0: individualisation for mass production
In the spirit of Industry 4.0, the prototype Motion Cube can allow individual production on a single machine, for example the assembly of mobile phones with different features according to customers' wishes (memory capacity, housing colour, engraving, etc.). For example, a customer could configure his or her desired mobile phone online, transmit the data to the machine and have a mobile phone assembled accordingly.
In laboratory automation, laboratory specimens in a specimen handling application can be automatically assigned to the relevant evaluation stations in accordance with the required analyses. Motion Cube could also be used as a shaker to mix liquids in sample vials. A cover which extends over all the modules ensures an easy-to-clean enclosed system for applications with strict hygiene requirements. The pallets can be driven by magnetic couplings in this case. Transport using air bearings would also be a feasible option.
Further possible uses are applying adhesives to workpieces of any shape, palletising workpieces, inspecting components, and filling, sorting, testing and inspecting, storing, buffering or transporting functions.
Savings at the periphery
As the system can transport and palletise at the same time, considerable savings can be achieved at the periphery. For example, in palletising, the system can deliver pallets to set-down positions. This means there is no need for axes for X and Y positioning.
Thanks to the modular and flexible design of the palletising system, individual production lines can be created very quickly and adapted to changes in production conditions. Its unusual architecture means that the system offers impressive flexibility while requiring only little space.
Conventional conveyor systems transport pallets on conveyor belts. This means that the operating system and the sequence of pallets are fixed. In order to change the sequence, deflectors and a number of conveyor belts have to be installed, generating higher costs and requiring more space.
The Motion Cube palletising system, on the other hand, can be deployed flexibly and is able to react immediately to all requirements regarding sequences and target positions. It can be expanded easily and can be adapted very quickly to changing production conditions. Further positioning modules can be added without any great expense, so that the palletising system can be expanded or modified virtually endlessly. The principle of the palletising system allows a production line to be set up in extremely small spaces.
This concept won over the technical jury at the Handling Award 2015 and inspired its experts to select the Motion Cube system for first place in the category "Automation and Robotics". The award was presented by Professor Bernd Kuhlenkötter, holder of the Chair of Production Systems at the University of Bochum, to Michael Feyrer, design engineer in the department Product Concepts Evaluation with Festo at Motek in October 2015.