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Robotics solutions for unloading big bags

April 2020

Analytical Report (full version)

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Analytical Report (full version)

Robotics solutions for unloading big bags
Robotics solutions for unloading big bags
April 2020

Robotics solutions for unloading big bags

April 2020

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Around the world, a fairly large amount of loading and unloading operations is carried out with the use of big bags (also called bulk bags). The goal of the new study conducted by J’son & Partners Consulting was to find robotics and other solutions to improve the safety of loading and unloading operations and increase the economic efficiency of this process, which can be expressed both in increasing the speed of work and in reducing labor costs.

 

The essence of the big bag unloading problem

 

Big bag is a modern reliable bag (often of a large size and volume) made of special durable non-woven material. They are used to transport and store bulk materials in a convenient manner. For ease of use, there are slings attached to big bags (there are built-in or sewn slings). Bags with built-in slings are usually stronger since the big bag sling is a continuation of the bag itself. Manufacturers use strong polypropylene tapes to produce big bags with sewn slings. They are securely sewn on all four sides of the bag. Big bags have various sizes, numbers of slings, ways of fastening; they vary in the presence and location of the discharge valves and the presence of a polyethylene liner.

 

Automatization of loading and unloading operations with the use of big bags implies that the bagsmust be automatically hooked, transferred to another location and then unhooked. The most advanced solution at the moment is industrial robots, the carrying capacity of which reaches 2.5 tons. A robotic arm is the basic grip type. With help of the arm, computer vision and sensors it can capture objects with great accuracy. However, due to the existence of various ways of fastening of big bags, the arm will not be able to provide a grip on the bag (the only possible option is using single-line big bags, but such bags are not really common), gripping one by industrial manipulators is also not optimized for big bags (claws and clamps are not suitable due to the lack of structural rigidity, vacuum suction cups do not have the proper capacity to raise the most common big bags weighing 1-2 tons).

  

 

 

Ways to automate the process of big bag unloading

 

In total, about 20 different solutions were analyzed (a data bank with comprehensive characteristics from open sources is attached to the report). The study by J’son & Partners Consulting showed that at the moment there are no unpretentious robotic full-cycle solutions that allow load/unload big bags in the open air. However, automation of big bag loading/unloading operations is still developing and it is going in two directions.

 

  • Cargo uncoupling

 

The most developed area of robotization is the process of uncoupling cargoes from hooks. There is a number of solutions that work on the basis of hydraulics, pneumatics and electricity. These solutions completely exclude the participation of personnel (slingers) from the process of cargo unloading (uncoupling). At the moment, these solutions have the greatest business effect.

 

  • Automation of big bag capture

 

The second direction is an attempt to automate big bag capture. Only two suppliers approached the automated capturing process: they use magnets that pull the straps of special big bags with sewn wires (or iron rings) to a special platform and then close the latch of the hook above.

 

The use of frames/travers, regardless of robotization, can increase the efficiency of loading and unloading, however, the use of large frames without automated hooks is associated with a number of difficulties (the more slings, the more slingers are needed). The combination of the swivel travers and automated hooks allows to simultaneously unload up to 20 big bags, which actually allows unloading the gondola car in two passes (if there is a crane of the corresponding lifting capacity). An example of such a solution is a traverse with semi-automatic hooks. On them, in manual mode, the straps of big bags are hooked, and after transferring the load to the required place, the crane operator himself can release all the hooks by pressing a button on the remote control, the unloading is done. This traverse is mounted on cranes and has several types of rotary mechanisms.

 

Accordingly, we can say that the implementation of these solutions mentioned in the report can:

 

increase the speed single operations;

 

increase the number of simultaneously carried big bags, respectively, further increasing the speed of unloading the wagon;

 

reduce the number of people used in loading/unloading operations.

 

 

 

Recommendations For Implementation

 

At the moment the most effective solution for automated loading and unloading operations with the use of big bags is a combination of a revolving traverse and automated hooks. This solution allows for reducing fuel/electricity consumption, compared with the current figures by increasing the number of simultaneously carried big bags and the speed of operations. The solution allows for reducing the number of personnel due to the automation of the unloading process. All solutions do not have significant maintenance costs and do not require highly qualified personnel. In addition, the frames do not need specialized storage conditions, and electric hooks can be stored separately. The lifetime of the frame is limited only by the quality of the iron. Hooks, according to the manufacturer, also have an unlimited resource and require battery replacement every 3 years.

 

The most technically mature and effective solutions are a combination of conventional traverse and hooks with automated locking/unlocking with use of the remote control. The second direction of testing can be the use of traverses for 20 big bags with semi-automatic hooks (attached to all types of cranes).

 

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This newsletter was prepared by J'son & Partners Consulting. We make every effort to provide factual and forecast data that fully reflect the situation and are available at the time of the release of the material. J'son & Partners Consulting reserves the right to revise the data after the publication of new official information by individual players.

 

 

 

 

Detailed research results presented in the full version of the report:

Robotic solutions for unloading big bags”

 

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. FORMULATION OF THE PROBLEM

1.2. METHODOLOGY

1.3. SOURCES

2. CLASSIFICATION OF ROBOTIZED FACILITIES FOR UNLOADING BIG BAGS FROM GONDOLA CARS

2.1. TYPES OF ROBOTIZED SOLUTIONS FOR UNLOADING BIG BAGS FROM GONDOLA CARS

2.2. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF ROBOTIZED SOLUTIONS FOR UNLOADING BIG BAGS FROM GONDOLA CARS

3. ANALYTICAL REVIEW OF MANUFACTURERS AND EXISTING SAMPLES OF ROBOTIZED SOLUTIONS FOR UNLOADING BIG BAGS FROM GONDOLA CARS

3.1. EU COUNTRIES

3.1.1. Great Britain

3.1.2. Other EU countries

3.2. OTHER ASIAN COUNTRIES

3.3. OTHER COUNTRIES

4. CONCLUSIONS

4.1. ROBOTIZED SOLUTIONS FOR UNLOADING BIG BAGS FROM GONDOLA CARS

4.2. BARRIERS, METHODS OF THEIR OVERCOMING, REQUIRED REGULATORY-LEGAL ACTS AND OPPORTUNITIES OF IMPLEMENTATION

4.3. INFLUENCE OF ROBOTIZED SOLUTIONS ON INCREASING THE SAFETY OF UNLOADING BIG BAGS FROM GONDOLA CARS

4.4. INFLUENCE OF ROBOTIZED SOLUTIONS ON INCREASING THE EFFICIENCY OF UNLOADING BIG BAGS FROM GONDOLA CARS

4.5. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

 

List of pictures

 

Pic. 1. Types of big bags

Pic. 2. Manipulator

Pic. 3. Arm

Pic. 4. Claw

Pic. 5. Clamp

Pic. 6. Big bags in a gondola car

Pic. 7. Unloading a car with bags

Pic. 8. Unloading a car with bags

Pic. 9. Vacuum type grippers

Pic. 10. Magnet

Pic. 11. Manual hook for big-bag slings for subsequent automatic unloading with use of hooks ...

Pic. 12. The release of hooks manufactured by ... is done with use of the remote control

Pic. 13. Another example of a semi-automatic hook ... (manual hooking, automated unloading)

Pic. 14. Hydraulic hook (unloading only)

Pic. 15. Automated crane ... for loading cargoes ... on railway transport

Pic. 16. Hook ... (appearance, dimensions)

Pic. 17. Example of a hook ...

Pic. 18. Hydraulic capture ...

Pic. 19. Hydraulic capture ...

Pic. 20. Frame with hydraulic grippers ...

Pic. 21. Capture ...

Pic. 22. Capture ... (dimensions)

Pic. 23. Scheme and dimensions of hooks ... series ...

Pic. 24. Line of hooks ...

Pic. 25. Special big bag. Manufactured by ... adapted for its automated lifting hooks

Pic. 26. Automated lifting hooks ... magnet big-bag slings with metal wire or rings inside

Pic. 27. Example of a fully automated big bag loading/unloading ... (capture and release are done remotely)

Pic. 28. Frame with hydraulic hooks (unloading only)

Pic. 29. Slingers hold the cables so that the mount does not slip until the cable is pulled