Pick and place robot for coffee pods

rezemo GmbH

2-axis line gantry in production use of coffee capsules made from 100% renewable materials.

rezemo GmbH develops and produces innovative packaging solutions based on 100% renewable raw materials in order to create alternatives for the use of fossil plastics and aluminum, especially in the area of disposable packaging. One packaging solution is coffee capsules made of wood. Consumers and coffee roasters can continue to enjoy and offer the convenience product coffee capsules without a guilty conscience - without microplastics, proven to be 100% bio-based.

One challenge is the sealing of the capsules. In coffee preparation, the coffee capsules are subjected to high water pressure in the capsule machine. The pressure behind the capsule must be held and channeled into it. This is where the seal comes into play. In the case of conventional aluminum capsules, silicones are used for sealing; in the case of plastic capsules, pliable plastics are used. Rezemo relies on 100% renewable materials and has chosen natural rubber.

In production, rezemo relies on low-cost automation. The production line initially relied on fully manual feeding and removal of the capsules into and out of the metering process. To automate the removal of the capsules after the dosing process, rezemo opted for a handling solution that can approach several fixed points as quickly and precisely as possible with high repeatability.

A 2-axis line gantry from igus is used, together with the dryve D1 control system. Inside the plant, the capsules are provided with an external and circumferential seal made of natural rubber. The line has a capacity of approx. 43 capsules per minute. The line gantry, equipped with a vacuum gripper, is used to remove the capsules from the dosing process and then stack them in rows on a timed conveyor belt, which then moves through a drying tunnel with the stacked capsules. The entire system is controlled by a Raspberry Pi single board computer and its GPIO signal pins. Using Python scripts, we are able to flexibly read out various sensor signals and control movements by means of pneumatic cylinders as well as DC and stepper motors.

The system has now completed several million cycles and is running smoothly. One focus was on the integration into the existing Python-based control system. The line gantry from igus together with the dryve D1 controller is a very good solution here. In particular, the good documentation and the support helped a lot in the project to integrate the control into the previous concept with the Raspberry Pi, without having to purchase an expensive higher-level control for the plant.

Another decisive criterion was the lubricant-free storage of the handling. The system is used to produce consumer goods for packaging food, so it is essential that no operating materials are transferred to the coffee capsules and contaminate them.

Price also played an important role for the start-up. The investment for low-cost automation was low. This allowed the production capacity to be expanded piece by piece.

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