Vacuum components for use with lightweight robots

Vacuum Technology for Lightweight Robots and Cobots

Lightweight robots and cobots are being used increasingly frequently in small and medium-sized companies that want to automate their processes in order to make them more efficient and ergonomic. In these companies, robots often take on simple tasks that are especially monotonous or physically demanding.

However, this does not remove the need for humans in production environments. In human-robot collaboration, or HRC for short, humans and robots generally share a workspace without any spatial separation. However, a workpiece-based risk assessment is still necessary. Depending on the workpiece, safety fencing is still required, for example for the handling of sharp objects.

In human-robot collaboration, the robot helps the human complete his or her tasks. The objective is to combine human qualities, such as intuitive knowledge, sound judgment or situation-specific action, with the strengths of the robot, that is short cycle times and maximum accuracy.

From individual components all the way to ready-to-connect end effectors, Schmalz offers intelligent gripping solutions for lightweight robots and collaborative robots. The robots are easy to integrate into existing applications, allowing for increased flexibility.

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Experienced system consultants will help you design the vacuum solution to suit your industry-specific needs.

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“With its components, Schmalz is ensuring that cobot systems can be commissioned with utmost speed and simplicity. The straightforward operation of the gripper and other components is an important prerequisite for the success of the collaborative system.”

Thomas Eisele,
Head of Business Development Process, Vacuum Automation

Schmalz presents the CobotPump ECBPi – a new generation of intelligent vacuum generators that do

not need compressed air. Their areas of application include mobile robotics, for example in autonomous

warehouses or stationary handling tasks with collaborative robots (cobots).

Requirements for Vacuum Technology

Increased efficiency in production
In order to make production steps more efficient, the vacuum components used must be lightweight and compact in order to prevent any unnecessary interfering contours. However, despite the compact design, the components must still be powerful.

Low component weights
Collaborative robots are generally very lightweight when compared to the classic industrial manipulators for heavy loads weighing more than a ton. Due to their low weight, they can handle loads of between 3 and 15 kilograms, depending on their specific type. To make maximum use of the lift capacities, system and component developers must consider the functionality of the grippers and keep an eye on their weight. For example, in terms of the construction of the area grippers FXCB/FMCB, Schmalz uses additive manufacturing processes to generate a robust yet lightweight geometry. The foam gripping surface makes it possible to safely hold a variety of workpieces, such as cardboard, boxes and structured components or components with recesses and three-dimensional outer shapes weighing up to eight kilograms.

Easy-to-integrate components
The integrated communication technology in the Schmalz vacuum components facilitates the installation and configuration on the lightweight robots. As applications become increasingly diverse and, in part, increasingly complex, it must be possible to operate systems intuitively. For this reason , Schmalz’s vacuum generator ECBPi and area gripper FXCB rely on NFC technology. This interface allows users to access data, operating instructions or error messages on their smartphones via the “Schmalz ControlRoom” app, while they are also able to configure the devices.

Monitoring the system status
Intelligent functions such as condition monitoring for the electrical vacuum generator ECBPi make it possible to monitor the system vacuum and transfer information on the status of the system via an IO-Link interface. The integrated sensor can also be used to define limit values. The control system of the vacuum generator thus safeguards a defined vacuum value and adjusts independently as necessary. This ensures that workpieces are gripped reliably. Furthermore, the status of the system is visualized with optical signals so that people standing near the electrical vacuum generator ECBPi can read the status on the device directly.

Adaptation to collaboration with humans
Thanks to human-robot collaboration, humans and robots often work in the same workstations. Given their proximity to humans, the vacuum components used, in particular vacuum generators such as the ECBPi, must work as quietly as possible. Furthermore, rounded shapes and a design in line with ISO TS 15066 (Robots and robotic devices – Collaborative robots) are used in order to minimize potential sources of injury.

Vacuum solutions for collaborative robotics

Create the ideal gripping solution for your cobot yourself, or select one of our pre-configured complete packages for your robot.

Electrical Vacuum Generators

  • Max. 12 l/min suction rate
  • Max. vacuum: 75%

Vacuum Area Gripping Systems FXCB/FMCB

  • Area gripper for integrated or external vacuum generator
  • Suitable for operation with collaborative robots
  • Sealing element: sealing foam

Vacuum End Effectors VEE

  • Modular system for simple design of vacuum end effectors
  • Grippers that can be configured online
  • Handling of workpieces in packaging processes

Tailored solutions for your lightweight robot

Schmalz works together with renowned robot manufacturers to develop optimal gripping solutions for their lightweight robots and cobots.