Machine Design

Where's the problem? New controls make palletizer simple to debug

A noteworthy aspect of a new pallet-building cell is that it lets plant personnel easily iron out software problems. One reason: On the production floor, it responds to a simple contact language.

The scalable gantry palletizing/depalletizing system from Automated Motion Inc. can be configured to palletize up to 10 pallets simultaneously. An Ormec SMLC (inset) handles motion-control tasks. The system also uses a special vacuum-gripping end effector that can grip products without making a seal over the entire surface of its platen. That lets one gripper handle a variety of products, carton, case, or can sizes and shapes.

This thanks to the use of an SMLC (ServoWire Motion and Logic Controller) from Ormec Systems Corp., Rochester, N.Y. (

The GP1 is a single-position gantry typically used as a pallet-build or depalletizing station. Designed by Automated Motion Inc., Edgewood, Md. (, it handles cases, cans, trays, or similar containers. Users include drug companies such as Abbott Labs.

It is the first palletizing device to incorporate the new Ormec controller, say developers at AMI. The SMLC employs off-the-shelf components to keep hardware costs in line and uses a real-time operating system to manage tasks. It simplifies installations, says Ormec, by eliminating PC-based motion-control boards and proprietary motion-control languages. The controller uses IEC 61131-3 programming for motion and I/O control. (OEMs can also program it in either Visual Basic or C/C++.) It also handles industrial I/O and up to 16 servos directly from a PC using a standard IEEE-1394 (FireWire) network.

-- Leland Teschler

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.