SABO S.A, commissioned a new high capacity robotic setting machine for Meridian Brick in Henderson Texas, in United States.
The project was ordered in the middle of 2018, just months after the start of the commercial activity in U.S. through Reymond Products International Inc.
Reymond Products International Inc., die makers to the brick and tile industry, spanning the globe with quality equipment, leads the market having presence for more than 60 years on the sector of custom heavy-clay extrusion dies.
Year 2018 is the key moment when the new cooperation with Reymond Products International Inc. gives SABO the opportunity to enter the US market bringing knowledge and technologies from oversees.
This was actually the second project delivered to Meridian bricks after the successful installation of a smaller scale project on March 2019 which involved a new shallow-pit transfer car for the plant in Gleason, Tennessee.
The project, the new robotic setter was designed and commissioned for 45.000 bricks per hour. The new setter includes all the machines after the existing slug-cutter till the loading of kiln cars to the existing transfer car of the holding room and becomes one of the biggest active setters in United States of America.
From the day of order placement, all the departments of Sabo are immediately engaged in the project in order to be ready to study, construct, test and ship the line in a total period of 6 month. Before the dispatch period, Meridian Engineers and Managers had the opportunity to inspect the line assembled in Sabo premises during inhouse testing, sharing their last comments on last minute improvements. The whole transportation of the new setter was organized by Sabo on a door-to-door basis.
After the shutdown of the old setter, the disassembly of the old machine and the remaining civil works starts immediately. The installation was really demanding and needed working with precision, due to the size of the machines and the limited space and access in this part of the building. The expert group of people consisted of a complete team led by a project manager, site manager, experienced fitters for mechanical and electrical works as well as helping mechanics and electricians. The whole project was based on a strict and tight timeschedule of 5 weeks installation and 2 weeks commissioning. The installation of the machines was completed on time, thanks to the support of the whole Meridian-team.
The new line starts after the existing slug cutter with a short belt which drives the slugs on the slug duplication machine. This machine is moving left and right every 3 seconds in order to create a group of 2 slugs. Both slugs are moving to the cutter which pushes every 6 seconds creating 40X2=80 bricks per push.
The cutter has a double wire bank and is able to switch automatically when a wire is broken. A fast-clap system gives the opportunity to the operator to change 40 wires in less than 10 minutes time. Pre-grooving roller disks give the possibility for chamfered or textured corners on the top part of the bricks.
After the cutter, the bricks are following the main marshalling belt. The next station is the duplication gripper, which creates superimposed layers of bricks. Group of 160 brick (2 double lines of 40 bricks each) are moving step by step till the intermediate programming marshalling belt which creates the final pattern of bricks for the robots. Four robots are picking up from the final marshalling belt, carrying 60 bricks per cycle to set them on the kiln car. The robots are working in groups of two, each group placed on each side of the marshalling belt, loading kiln cars in two tracks of empty kiln cars. The spacing between the bricks is done directly on the robot gripper. Special Fanuc safety software ensures that both robots can work on a small area without collision and in proper synchronization.
Apart from the edge setting, there is also the option of flat setting. Above the intermediate small marshalling belt is the flat setting gripper which can lift and rotate bricks to flat position. The flat setting function gives the opportunity to the whole setter to be switched from edge to flat easily.
The line is also equipped with, two roller machines and their respective cutters that place automatically plastic film on top of the car. In between the layers of the bricks, there is the option of net placement – on one or more layers of the kiln hack. The net is fed and cut automatically while its placement is done by the robot gripper that is pulling the net from the net setter. The machine can signal the operator that the roll is ready to be depleted in order to be easy and fast for the operator to minimize the downtime of the machine.
The indexing system is really smart and fast, as both lines should have always ready empty kiln cars waiting to be loaded. Also the exit of the kiln cars from the line must be very fast to respect the machine cycles.
The whole setting machine fulfills the highest standard of safety norms and is programmed and controlled from independent safety PLC system. All the area is completely protected. The access of the operators, inside the safety areas, when this is needed, is fast through the special sliding doors and safe through special key locking system.
The operator has physical vision of most of the line as well as digital vision through six high-definition cameras installed in key positions surrounding the whole machine with special emphasis in important spots with low visibility.
The line was delivered complete of access platforms, and waste conveyors to remove waste material coming from cutter off-cuts, waste chopper and other positions.