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Grippers with micro valves reduce energy consumption and cycle time

Integrated pneumatic valves lower compressed air consumption by up to 90 percent


The challenge in terms of sustainability:

When using pneumatic gripping modules in assembly automation, a large part of compressed air is wasted in the feed line with each cycle. The aim of the sustainability project was to implement a decentralized control unit directly at the actuator in order to minimize compressed air and energy consumption while shortening cycle times.

The original situation:

Compressed air is a common, but at the same time comparatively expensive medium within industrial automation. If it is wasted, it has a twofold effect on the energy balance: both the production of compressed air and the generation of electricity required for this results in losses that multiply themselves. This is applicable, for example, in assembly automation where pneumatic actuators are normally controlled via valve terminals. With every ventilation process, or at every cycle, compressed air in the feed line is lost completely. In a supply hose three meters long and four millimeters in diameter, air loss is about ten times higher than the consumption of a connected gripper for small components.

The solution:

Miniaturized pneumatic valves from SCHUNK, the leading expert for clamping technology and gripping systems, can be integrated directly into the gripper or connected with it as a mounting box. Without unfavorable interfering contours, this eliminates long feed lines between the valve and gripper that would have to be filled and emptied at each pressure change. Instead of the entire feed line, only the piston chamber of the actuator now has to be filled with compressed air during each cycle. For instance, when using the MPG-plus gripper for small components from SCHUNK, micro valves can reduce compressed air consumption by up to 12 Nm3 per day under realistic conditions, which is equivalent to 90 percent of the previous air consumption. If several grippers are installed in the system, this value increases accordingly. Moreover, micro valves help to speed up the reaction from actuators and reduce the energy required for electrical actuation.

The sustainable strengths:

Compared to centrally arranged control elements and long distribution paths, the decentralized pneumatic control unit provides enormous benefits. SCHUNK micro valves create a twofold effect here: they reduce energy consumption while allowing a high level of productivity at the same time.
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The inventors:

The development department for gripping systems components has always been to minimize the goal of cycle times. From this setting out to create products that are optimal in terms of mass. With this basic idea was very quick and easy micro-valve series. These micro-valves can easily be mounted directly to pneumatic actuators and therefore very effective in reducing response times and energy costs.

About the company:

Name:  GAS Automation GmbH
(since 2012 a member of the SCHUNK GmbH & Co. KG)
Headquarters: St. Georgen
Established: 1984
Employees: 70
Solutions:  Valve technology, linear direct drives and standard and customized systems for electronics production
Internationality:  SCHUNK worldwide distribution network
URL:  http://www.gas-automation.de