Quarterly Newsletter 2021:Q4

Robotic Integrators tend to develop niche’s through their experiences. MJ Engineering is no different. We have developed a niche serving the powder processing industry with our robotic sagger handling cell. We have robotic solutions that can handle multiple different kiln styles including roller kilns, tunnel kilns and shuttle kilns. A single robot system is capable of handling 1400- 1500 saggers per day depending on the needs of the system. A two robot system can handle 2000 saggers or more per day. The robots use a proprietary EOAT (end of arm tool) that will not over squeeze the saggers because ceramic saggers don’t handle compression well. Overall the robot system can be integrated with dump stations, fill stations and crack inspection systems to remove saggers before they fail. The systems are designed to run 24 hours a day with little to no human interaction. Through our experience, we have found that robotically handling saggers increases the life of the sagger substantially.

Backlit Conveyors Systems

Engineers are responsible for coming up with creative solutions to problems that customers have and MJ Engineering is no different. Oftentimes that problem revolves around how to increase production and decrease labor costs. Palletizing and depalletizing cells are a quick and easy way to streamline a process that cuts out labor and increases productivity. However, when you have a product that needs to be inspected the process can be far more complex, and often it is easier to leave a person in charge of that process. One method for part inspection is through the use of a vision system. To enhance the capabilities of vision systems, MJ integrates them with our own specially designed backlit conveyor.

Sagger Handling Systems

MJ Engineering is well versed in automating sagger handling applications for roller kiln and tunnel kiln applications.  Our robotic solutions will increase the life of your saggers through more gentle handling while relieving the operator of the ergonomic strain of constantly lifting and twisting all day long.  Our standard Turnkey system uses a Fanuc R2000 style robot to handle up to 1500 saggers per day.  We also offer a two robot system that can handle well in excess of 2000 saggers per day.

One issue with automating kiln systems is the tendency of the saggers to move from their  anticipated location.  MJ Engineering utilizes an integrated Fanuc iRVison system that will locate the sagger so the robot can adapt to any movement. After the saggers are located the robot will pick them up and dump the powder into the hopper then place them into an automated fill system (or directly under the nozzle) and then transfer a loaded sagger into the system. We utilize a proprietary EOAT design that will positively engage the saggers without squeezing the saggers.  

This allows our system to invert (dump) and shake or scrape powder without damaging the saggers.  The result is an improved life of the sagger and reduced cracking. MJ Engineering can handle saggers both with and without lids.  Saggers can be individually fed or stacked with lids.  We can add an automated AI-based vision system to assist with crack detection and removal of saggers prior to fracture preventing hours of unnecessary cleanup.

MJ Engineering has the knowledge, designs, and capabilities to handle these sagger applications and countless other kinds of applications. We can build anything from turnkey systems to depal cells to pick and place cells. So if you have an application that needs automating today don’t wait to contact us at (614)-891-6111 or email us at jwand@mjengineering.com.

3D Printing Capabilities

MJ Engineering has both a metal and plastic 3D printer with very different capabilities. The Markforged Metal X can print Copper, Tool Steel, and Stainless Steel while the Mark 2 printer uses Onyx, a nylon based filament with reinforcement. This printer can reinforce with Carbon Fiber, Kevlar, and Fiberglass materials. MJ Engineering initially used the printers for prototyping and simple bracket mounts, but we have found the strength and quality of the prints could be used more extensively in our projects. We are now printing spare parts, upgrades and finished products for current and past projects. This has directly affected MJ’s ability to reduce the cost and lead time for projects.

For our most recent project, we utilized the Mark 2 printer for numerous parts. We printed the EOAT gripper fingers, a funnel assembly for placing the straws into the bottles, and a complex design for spring-loaded bottle crowders. For more information on the usage of the 3D printed parts see the pick and place straw cell article (Click here).

A powerful capability we have with our printers is the ability to insert hardware into the parts. Hardware such as nuts, bolts, pins, and springs can be embedded in the part. This can allow complex designs that would be impossible to machine, but make assembly easier, isolate wearable features, or add functionality directly where you need it.

The ability to 3D Print ready-for-use parts has expanded MJ Engineering’s capability to reduce lead times and costs for customers’ projects. We keep finding innovative ways to design and use 3D printed parts to create solutions for difficult problems. To see if the printer could help you and your company, please contact us today for a quote and print.

Collaborative Pick and Place

MJ Engineering and a plastic injection molding company have worked together to develop a cell using a Fanuc CRX-10L to help the molding company improve its current process. The new cell is a collaborative robot cell that performs pick and place operations.

The system utilizes a vacuum end of arm tool that picks the plastic parts and places them in totes. Once placed into totes the robot picks a label and places that on the top rim of the tote. The tote is then ejected out from the station via a sublevel conveyor and the operator is then responsible for placing the label on the tote.

The system has powered conveyors to bring in totes in the center and gravity conveyors to eject full totes. There are right-hand and left-hand parts (mirrors of each other), in order to assist the operator, the output conveyors are separated to help prevent mix-ups of left/right-hand parts. While the cell was originally designed as a collaborative cell, the speed limitations were considerable with everything the client was wanting the cell to do. We
added some guarding and light curtains to allow the cell to run in non-collaborative mode.

Unfortunately, running a collaborative robot in a non-collaborative mode creates significant safety issues and concerns when attempting to meet industry standard safety standards such as RIA. There are various ways to allow this, including safety area scanners, light curtains/fencing, and radar scanners. Collaborative robots are often sold through distributors who don’t understand the safety impacts of integrating a collaborative robot in your facility. They expect you to understand all the requirements and take all the risks.

Come talk to us about your “collaborative” application and get a real perspective on
what that means. To see how MJ Engineering can help you, please contact us today!