A manufacturer of medical tests is building a machine for producing rapid coronavirus antibody tests. The machine can produce 40 tests per minute. For this purpose, the customer requires a pallet circulation system on which the tests can be assembled by robots fully automatically. The finished products must be further processed semi-automatically on an additional circulation system and then manually packed by workers. Because sensitive electronic components are used in the tests, the entire system will be located in an ESD protection zone. The ESD protection concept is designed to avoid potential difference. The production takes place in a dry room with a maximum of 10% humidity. The machine runs in three shifts. Due to the urgency and high demand for coronavirus rapid tests, the system must be produced, delivered and commissioned very quickly.
mkf GmbH within the mk Group constructed the entire system, including locks for the dry room, interfaces, controller and on-site commissioning. The conveyor technology was supplied by Maschinenbau Kitz, the parent company.
The Versamove plus pallet circulation system was the right solution for the task at hand. The circulation system was implemented using timing belt conveyors equipped with antistatic wear strips and antistatic timing belts. The choice of materials and designs for the earth terminals ensure that potential differences cannot build up, thus meeting the required level of ESD protection. Wear strips and timing belts are also low-wear and therefore emit few particles. The circulation system can stop, store, position and separate. With the positioning units, the pallets at the robot processing stations can be positioned in X, Y and Z directions with an accuracy of 0.1 mm. The spatial conditions were a particular challenge. Each item had to be positioned in a very small hall measuring 10 m x 15.5 m. The mk designers solved this problem by combining the two originally planned circuits into one circuit. Lifts are used to transport the pallet to an additional level below the first transport line. Access to the inside of the circuit is ensured by hinged maintenance accesses. In addition, the required delivery time, including design, production and assembly times, was very short. In this unique situation, mk managed to deliver the complete conveyor technology within just a few weeks of the request.