Robotic loading system over traditional mechanism for higher output
February 7, 2024 2:45 pm
With assistance from Rockwell Automation, HT Process transitioned from traditional mechanisms to an advanced robotic loading system, ensuring both safety and higher outputs.
HT Process is a leader in manufacturing special-purpose machines for the Oil & Gas industry. They offer high capacity and efficiency at the lowest total cost of ownership by consistently working under the principle of TQM (Total Quality Management) and incorporating a zero-defect culture in their products. HT Process products include fully automatic LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) filling machines, robotic loading and unloading of cylinders, cylinder inspection systems, Bitumen Drum filling plants, and Bitumen Polybag filling plants.
Challenge: Designing a safe and efficient loading/unloading system
HT Process previously operated a traditional cylinder handling system, managing a throughput of 300-500 cylinders per hour with manual truck loading. They innovated the filling system to boost the throughput of cylinders per hour. However, this increase in upstream throughput necessitated the employment of more workers in hazardous areas to load cylinders onto trucks. Loading and unloading gas cylinders in trucks at a factory is a critical and potentially hazardous process that demands meticulous planning, strict adherence to safety protocols, and effective coordination.
Safety is the utmost priority. Thus prompting the need for loaders and unloaders capable of reducing the workforce required in hazardous areas while tackling various challenges. Gas cylinders, known for their weight, present risks of back injuries or strains to workers due to heavy lifting. These cylinders’ manual lifting and manoeuvring are physically demanding, necessitating proper training in ergonomic practices. Additionally, maintaining cylinder integrity is crucial, requiring careful handling to ensure they are free from damage, corrosion, and leaks. Time constraints further compound the pressure on workers during the loading and unloading of gas cylinders, emphasising the need for efficient processes without compromising safety. Furthermore, a limited number of assigned workforce on jobs for the maximum number of trucks per day increases the risk of injuries or strains to workers handling the cylinders.
Solutions: Adopting an advanced robotic loading system over a traditional mechanismHT Process turned to Rockwell Automation to jointly develop a robotic loader, which could meet the increased loading speed requirements while minimising the workforce requirement, thus reducing the risk to the workforce in hazardous areas.
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HT Process envisioned a robotic system capable of handling high-speed loading operations. A custom gantry system was designed specifically for pick and place operations. It was made flexible to adapt to different sizes and misaligned truck frames.
CompactLogix™ controller powers the solution along with the integrated motion Kinetix® 5700 Servo Drive by Rockwell Automation. This system ensures reliable cycle times and operates continuously with minimal operator intervention.
Results: Minimum safety risk, higher output
HT Process has achieved a throughput of 2,000 cylinders per hour without risk of injury to the workforce in hazardous areas. This higher throughput loading ensures the end user can reap the full benefits of the advanced high-speed filling system. The system ensures that no manual handling is required, leading to less damage to the cylinders.
Looking to the future, Shailesh Gupta, Managing Director, notes, “HT Process sees Rockwell Automation as a valuable partner and has collaborated closely with us through almost a decade in the development of both filling and loading systems. As we expand into global markets, we want to collaborate with Rockwell to enhance system throughput and condition monitoring further.”