CASE: Midwestern plant, USA (2015)

First ever robotic plant in MAKEEN Energy


The customer's challenge

Our solution

The outcome

Scope of supply

  • Single spray head paint robot system
  • Robotic palletizing system for 33lb forklift cylinders
  • Robotic palletizing system for 20lb cylinders
  • 2 x 12 semi-automatic filling machines
  • Leak detector/valve closer combination machine
  • Check-weighing
  • Sleeve applicator

To achieve great efficiency, speed and high capacity, some jobs are better left to robots to execute. Being well aware of this fact, our Midwestern customer installed the first ever robotic plant engineered by MAKEEN Energy (Back then known as Kosan Crisplant). Already a happy customer from a previous project, this customer turned to his trusted partner again to perform this revolutionary, first of its kind turnkey project.

The advanced plant is installed with three robotic systems used for the loading and unloading of cylinders - three at a time - and for painting thereby reducing the amount of man hours needed for the tasks. Paramount to this kind of repetitive work, the staff is supported by ergonomic equipment that ensures an improved work environment. The robots take out all the heavy lifting of the operation, they palletize in the most efficient way and ensure a fast pace as well. Simply put, the robots are faster, stronger and more accurate than their human counterparts.

Turnkey project with state-of-the-art, tailor-made equipment

The pioneering robotic plant was installed with its very own refurbishment area in which the North American 20lb propane cylinders that need maintaining are refurbished and subsequently painted - a job fit for a robot. The system consists of the robot, the paint delivery system, and the cylinder rotation system. The cylinders, hung from a monorail conveyor system, flow through a paint booth and make contact with a belt drive system that causes the cylinders to spin at 100 RPM. Subsequently, a system of sensors senses the presence of the cylinder and signals the robot to paint it. In terms of efficiency, this system eliminates the need for an operator to be in the paint cell. Once the system is turned on and the spray guns are prepped, the system takes over for the rest of the day - producing up to 600 cylinders per hour. (Watch the video below.)

The remaining two robotic systems handle the loading and unloading of cylinders off the pallets and on to the chain or roller conveyer which eases the amount of repetitive man power otherwise needed for the task. One robot handles the 20lb cylinders and the second is dimensionally modified to palletize the 33lb cylinders. These robots use a centering device system to 'catch' the cylinders coming down the conveyor and signal the robot to retrieve them for palletizing. The intelligent system is able to adapt to its surroundings always palletizing in the smartest way possible; it looks for a pallet to be in place and for the cylinders at the previous level of the pallet to confirm processing of the next level to eliminate errors. The system is programmed to start and stop the process automatically by communicating with all of the mechanical components of the cell. When it finishes an entire 'skid' of cylinders, which is a multiple layered pallet, it will eject the pallet via a powered roller conveyor to be picked up by a fork truck. The current top production rate of the system is 720 cylinders per hour.

Grand team effort

In order for this high tech plant to succeed, it took several months of R&D to produce the systems in North America and then an additional two months to implement it on site and develop the work flow to comply with demands. A number of obstacles arose and R&D was able to adjust and perfect the application on the fly. For every challenge a solution was found: A customised and intuitive interface secured the ideal interaction with the robot just as flawless communication logic between the robot and the PLC, which controls the rest of the system, helps to eliminate valuable down-time. The project was successfully executed due to a grand team effort from the customer and MAKEEN Energy.

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