RFID Provides Wireless EOAT Recognition

Wittmann has introduced a state-of-the-art EOAT (End-of-Arm-Tooling) recognition system supported by their R7 robot control based on "Remote Frequency Identification" (RFID) technology. A very economical and low-priced transponder is placed on the tooling to provide a 64-bit long, freely editable and remotely accessible identification number. The transponders are approximately 3.5 mm in diameter by 30 mm long. On the robot side, a reader with antenna is fixed to the vertical axis and immediately detects tooling changes. The RFID technology is currently experiencing a dramatic increase and has the potential to replace bar codes used in the retail industry.

During the tooling change no knowledge about the program is required in order to safely change to the correct Teach sequence. This is performed automatically at the push of a single button by the Wittmann robot control. By means of this unique ID, which is recognized without any physical contact, the file manager of the Wittmann R7 control system can establish a link between a specific removal gripper and the robot sequence. Every removal gripper can be assigned an absolutely unique and well defined program automatically without involvement of the operator. Preferably, the RFID tooling recognition is combined with a quick-change tooling system which provides the already necessary adaptations for the transponder.

The Wittmann robot control system R7 provides as standard a universal and comprehensive file manager which enables the storage and linkage of a photo (e.g. finished part) in order to allow simple visual identification of the correct Teach program. However, the goal of every process is to create a user-friendly and fail-proof system. The simple selection of the correct Teach program for the part removal robot on the molding machine is no exception, as wrong program sequences can cause damage to the mold, end-of-arm tooling and the downstream equipment.

A further possibility is to store the corresponding Teach program together with the mold data to avoid any confusion. Besides the uncertainties which are inherent to every optional data storage and back-up principle and the mandatory discipline and knowledge of the operator, the EOAT otherwise remains undefined when finally mounted to the robot. This means that any manual method provides only a very limited way to avoid user error and therefore does not fulfil the criteria to provide a true fail-safe system.

A big step in the direction of user friendliness and fail-proof systems was undertaken by Wittmann many years ago with the introduction of coded end-of-arm tooling systems. At that time "hard coded" gripper systems were introduced, which allowed by means of electrical inputs and outputs simple recognition of the tool. The only disadvantage of this method of gripper coding is the limitation of economically available inputs and outputs on the robots and the more extensive wiring which had to be done separately for each end-of-arm tooling. This system fulfils all criteria concerning user friendliness and fail-proof operation and offers virtually an unlimited number of different tooling codes. As mostly standard components are employed, the RFID tooling recognition can be offered at a very attractive price.

Wittmann is a global manufacturer offering plastic processors worldwide a complete range of innovative automation technology and auxiliary equipment - from autonomous work cells to centrally managed and controlled system solutions. Products include sprue pickers, robots, end-of-arm-tooling (EOAT), degators, and complete automation work cells; fully integrated materials handling systems with dryers, blenders, vacuum loading systems, rail car unloaders, silos, central filters, vacuum receivers, tilt tables and surge hoppers. Wittmann also offers beside-the-press and central granulators and water products including flow and mold temperature controllers.

With its entire line of peripheral equipment, Wittmann can cover all the needs of plastic processors. And, their worldwide presence through subsidiaries allows Wittmann to offer superb local service and sales support.

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