According to robotics manufacturer Robominds, the latest vacuum technology product from Piab has earned the nickname ‘the super cup’ because it simply lifts anything – regardless of the material, geometry or surface structure. Therefore, the all-rounder is exactly the suction cup that Robominds had been missing for its picking solutions for e-commerce customers and manufacturers of complex products.
Robominds’ smart picking concept, based on a vision system and AI-controlled software, decides independently which object to take out of a box containing randomly assembled items, and how. The camera recognizes the position and the gripping points of the object without requiring any training (the so-called ‘teaching’ of the system), CAD data or complex programming. This makes it particularly easy for commissioning and use, especially for users who do not have specific robotics or IT know-how. So far so good. But what was missing until now was a gripper that could just as universally pick up all objects presented to it.
Confronted with a new request to process and sort returns from a retail chain that has expanded its online business due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the robotics firm had to overcome this bottleneck. “That’s why I directly called the specialist at Piab and described the problem,” explains Christian Fenk, CSO at Robominds.
Bernd Gries, manager of global strategic accounts at Piab, explains, “This request from Robominds was a fortunate coincidence. We had just developed the first prototypes of our new MX suction cup, a multi-purpose tool, and were looking for test customers who would use it on a real application of a bin-picking task in which the products are not specifically arranged. The intent was to check whether the suction cup holds what it promises and really can accommodate products made from a wide variety of materials, with different surfaces and geometries.”
At Robominds, the MX suction cup quickly emerged as the missing link in the chain of the smart picking concept. “It exceeded all of our expectations, no matter whether it is a roll-on deodorant, shampoo bottle, loose pot sponges, biscuit packs, plaster boxes, mustard tubes, disposable razors wrapped in foil, gummy bears, mouth-nose masks or ice scrapers. Even screw caps from jam jars in an already porous, i.e. air-permeable, plastic bag were not a problem. That is why the MX suction cup has been nicknamed ‘super cup’ by us. It’s just great because it picks up everything, regardless of what you put in front of it,” says Fenk, describing the test results.
He adds, “At Robominds we have already worked with various suction cup manufacturers, but the Piab suction cups are just unbeatable. And although suction cups look so inconspicuous at first glance, we know the innovative strength and expertise behind their development. That is why Piab is now our exclusive Tech Alliance partner for vacuum technology products.”
The Robominds systems are used in e-commerce/online retail for the compilation of packages and the sorting of returns. They also support automotive and machine builders with the picking of components for the manufacture of a product when the number of components is too large to be stored next to the assembly line. Then the Robominds smart picking solution is placed on a mobile device to drive through automated rack storage systems, collect the relevant individual parts and assemble them for production.
The MX suction cup was developed by Piab engineers as a universal suction cup and has excellent gripping properties on many different surfaces, materials and geometries. It is compatible with all attachments and functions of the proven piGRIP suction cup family and is made of robust Duraflex material, which combines the elasticity of rubber with the wear resistance of polyurethane. It has a fantastic shape memory and ‘mark-free’ properties.
Thanks to its exceptional sealing properties, the MX suction cup can safely handle products even with low vacuum power because the excellent sealing reduces the leakage rate and thus the need for large vacuum flows. It is therefore perfect for small vacuum systems such as those used with cobots, for example in connection with Piab’s piCOBOT or Mini Cobot gripper. A low vacuum level also has the advantage that wrinkles or bulges on the surfaces being handled, such as film packaging, are avoided so that products arrive in perfect condition at the end customer.
For more information visit www.piab.com/robomx