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Delta robot behaves like a cobot and needs no guards

11 June, 2021

A Swiss company has developed a high-speed delta pick-and-place robot which behaves like a cobot (collaborative robot), allowing it to operate safely alongside humans without needing protective barriers or performance compromises. Wyzo – a subsidiary of the packaging specialist Demaurex, which was a pioneer of delta robot technology – claims that the development represents a new category of robot which it is calling a “sidebot” (a combination of sidekick and robot).

When there are no people nearby, the robot operates at its full speed of up to 80 picks/minute – ten times faster than a typical cobot, according to Wyzo. But when built-in sensors detect that a human is nearby, the robot slows down to a safe operating speed. If it makes contact, it stops automatically.

Wyzo says the machine combines the performance of an industrial robot with the versatility and compact size of a cobot, adding that it is “the world’s easiest pick-and-place to integrate”. It does not require the protective shields normally needed for delta robots.

The sidebot can handle payloads of up to 0.5kg (or up to 1kg with reduced performance). It can complete 2,000-5,000 cycles per hour, and occupies a floorspace of just 0.45m2 – one sixth of the footprint of a traditional industrial robot, according to Wyzo, which describes it as “the world’s most compact pick-and-place robot”. The sidebot has a 850mm-diameter and 380mm-high working volume, and can operate with worktop heights from 650-1,000mm.

Up to two built-in vision cameras can be used to detect products and/or containers.

A universal tool-holder makes the robot compatible with most standard grippers. Changeover speeds of less than nine seconds are said to be possible, making it ideal for manufacturers that need to switch between products. Pneumatic, electric and vacuum controls are built in.

The robot is designed to fit anywhere on a production floor to suit variety of production needs. It can fit through standard doors and into elevators, allowing it to be moved to where it is needed, eliminating bottlenecks and enabling rapid paybacks.

Wyzo’s HMI is designed for intuitive use by operators with no training in automated systems. The mobile terminal, equipped with emergency stop and deadman control, is claimed to be as easy to operate as a smartphone, and needs no scripts or programming to get it up and running.

“Creating Wyzo started with a dream to give every operator out there an assistant for day-to-day tasks on the production floor,” explains Wyzo’s CEO, Frank Souyris.

The Wyzo robot is designed to operate safely alongside human operators without the protective barriers normally needed around delta robots

“It is not a mere machine,” he adds. “Wyzo is a co-worker, who is easy to communicate with through a simple interface. Maybe the next generation will even have a conversation with its colleagues.

“Regardless of its conversational skills, however, its ability to be effectively integrated into existing production lines to perform pick-and-place tasks flexibly and reliably will certainly put a smile on manufacturers’ faces,” he adds. “It is a new benchmark for collaborative production that combines the best of human and machine abilities.”

A key to the design of the Wyzo robot is its use of a gearless direct-drive actuator technology developed by the Canadian firm, Genesis Robotics & Motion Technologies. The gear-free LiveDrive actuators do not need lubrication, thus avoiding the risk of lubricant contamination in food, beverage and pharmaceutical applications.

Frank Souyris says that the sidebot robots would not exist without Genesis actuators: “We’ve been searching for a solution for over a decade and LiveDrive is the missing link for our products. This technology is a game-changer that makes a significant difference in our work and allows us to achieve a high level of performance and safety.”

Demaurex has been developing and manufacturing delta robots for more than 30 years and has more than 4,000 robots installed worldwide.

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By doing away with the protective guards usually needed around delta robots (top), the Wyzo robot (bottom) occupies much less floor space

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