New: sensor module with intelligence - Modern management of accumulations in material flows

Mar 18, 2014

The congestion-free transport of objects on buffer segments in stationary transport systems – and their intelligent automation – has never been so easy, thanks to the ZoneControl system portfolio from SICK. No central controller is required – the sensor modules manage the three possible logics themselves and can also autonomously control the conveyor segments. A variety of housings and mounting options offer maximum flexibility, and in Sleep Mode one of the sensor variants even becomes an energy-efficient material flow gatekeeper.

Accumulations in material flows: buffers for improved performance
Buffer segments in automated material flow systems are responsible for the deliberate accumulation of objects and their defined feeding into a downstream process, e.g. for sorting, picking or palletizing. Firstly, they are designed to underpin discontinuous feeding and contribute towards capacity utilization of downstream stations that is as high and even as possible – by temporarily creating an accumulation of boxes, containers or pallets, and then transporting single items or blocks of goods from the congestion zone. In addition, their buffer function serves to provide the delay and non-contact holding back of pallets or boxes required when a station is temporarily not available, e.g. when a film winder for securing loads has a fault. In both cases, targeted buffering and removal mean improved transport process performance.

However, the longer the buffer section (e.g. an accumulating roller conveyor), the more sensors are generally required to detect arriving objects and the available congestion space. If, in addition, objects of different sizes are buffered, special logic is required in order to be able to interpret the switching signals of the congestion sensors appropriately for the process. Individually wiring each sensor and connecting them to the automation system – and perhaps programming even more complex logics oneself for buffer management – is neither technically efficient nor economically sensible. ZoneControl from SICK is the turnkey-enabled alternative that offers a high level of flexibility and minimum integration effort.

Variants with and without logic, differing housings with and without valves, designed for direct control of motorized rollers, with three different control logics – the ZoneControl portfolio offers a wide range of potential solutions that can be very individually adapted to the particular application as a complete package. There are various product families available, optimized for particular installation situations. Thanks to their adapted housings, e.g. the switching-only roller sensor ‘R’ for stand-alone use and the intelligent roller sensor ‘IR’ with pneumatic valve, integrated logic and serial switching function can be mounted between the rollers of accumulating roller conveyors.