MODULAR WAVE HANDLING

January 25, 2014


My company, Cielo Technologies, LLC, is involved with designing equipment to automate manufacturing process using work cell methodology.   Very frequently we have the need to include conveyors to move components into a cell and convey completed assemblies from a cell.  I recently was made aware of “MODULAR WAVE HANDLING” technology from research accomplished by FESTO AG & Co., KG in Germany.   I have used FESTO pneumatic equipment for many years and can certainly attest to their quality and technical support.  The information that follows is from that company.  Hope you enjoy this one.

The system itself is described as a “targeted transportation system” for moving very delicate items from one point to another.  The system can also be designed to off-load, route and combine material to provide accomplishment of desired objectives.  Materials such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc. require very special handling when conveying due to their very nature.  Now, most of the movement is done by hand due to issues with possible bruising and breaking.   The basic principle is derived from examination of wave motion occurring on the “high seas”.  The actual concept may be shown as follows:

INSPIRED BY NATURE

 

Just like waves in the ocean, the modular conveyor moves articles gently from point to point.  A cross-section of the conveyor is shown by the two JPEGS below.  Individual pneumatic modules are actuated providing motion to lift and lower upper sections of the conveyor, thus moving products forward.  This wave motion is controlled by software actuating spring-loaded modules strategically located under the solid surface.

INTEGRATED FUNCTIONS

 

CROSS-SECTION (2)

 

The FESTO modules may be seen as follows:

SELF-CONFIGURING

 

As you can see, these modules can be “ganged” thus providing an interlocking network of cylinders providing the wave motion necessary for movement.  An individual module looks as follows:

FLEXIBLE BELLOWS MODULES

 

You can see the entry port for tubing that carries air pressure internal valving internal of the device.  Absence or presence of pressure is determined by programming PLCs instructed to open or close the bellows assembly modules.  That configuration is given below.

 

BELLOWS ASSEMBLY WITH TUBING

 

I think this is a remarkably innovative solution to a problem that has been with us for years.  The product has not been commercialized as yet and, regrettably, we do not have cost figures for the individual modules nor the fabric surface covering the modules.   As with any innovation, I suspect costs will drop as purchases are made and equipment installed.  I definitely intend to “stay close” to any developments and news from FESTO.  We consistently derive our designs from nature and this is one great example of that being the case.

Hope you enjoyed this one and please give me your comments.

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