Vacuum is used in several areas of manufacturing; one of the most common and easily recognised is the use in pick and place systems, where vacuum is used via cups to pick up and move products.
Vacuum is also used in conveying, degassing and other process applications, as well as being used to secure work pieces to frames, drying, blister packaging, carton erecting and many more applications.
Vacuum is generated in two ways, using motor driven pumps or via generators which use compressed air passing over a venturi.
Selecting the best option for generating vacuum is generally down to duty cycle, where the vacuum is required for more than 10 - 20% of the cycle time then motor driven units are usually the best option. These need to be run constantly but generators can be controlled according to demand, even turning off the air supply while the product is being moved.
Using a vacuum sensor to detect the correct vacuum level enables the control system to considerably reduce the consumption of compressed air, offering significant energy savings.
The use of robots for placing products in cartons and transfer of cartons and products between different stations in the packaging lines is very common in all industries.
High speed pick-and-place robots for transferring products from production line to primary and secondary packaging are often equipped with vacuum to actually handle the product.
Improvements in vacuum cups and vacuum generation makes it the cost effective way to move more and more types of product.
For example the new bag handling cup from PIAB is the ideal solution to the problem of handling bagged products, where a less than even surface challenges the traditional style of cups.
With a trend toward pouch type packaging the new cup from Piab provides the solution to handling these at high speeds.
Sheet Material Handling
Sheet metal is moved through a series of presses and formed into a panel. Slippery panels due to oil, narrow areas to grip and high speed in the press makes the selection of cups crucial. This is a high speed application where friction cups for oily surfaces are needed for maximum performance.
Glass is manufactured in large slabs or sheets. It is cut and fed through ovens where it is formed into functional pieces. Robots and transfer stations handle the glass in sheet form, in a similar fashion as sheet metal.
Once the glass is formed, it is usually held to a workstation by cups where it is glazed or trimmed. New glass is often hot. Non-marking suction cups are always preferred.