This week Computer World has an article that could be at home in Coin World. It's about new automation at the Royal Australian Mint.
If you visit the Royal Australian Mint you will see a very busy, large, orange Kuka Titan robot, tipping coin blanks for delivery to the presses, tipping finished coins for packing into boxes and impressing visitors.
Dale Rogers, project manager for the Materials Handling and Warehousing Project (MHWP) at the Mint, said that until this year the materials and warehousing functions were carried out in a very manual fashion with very little technology.
The star of the new system is definitely the Kuka Titan robot, visible to visitors from the foyer. But it also works with new Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), a bucket elevator system, surge hoppers and a vision counting system; all of which are underpinned and managed by an MES (Manufacturing Execution System).
The robot is the same as that used by Isuzu to build trucks, so it is well-used to hard work.
The new automated MHWP system is end-to-end. It starts and finishes at the basement dock. Staff in the dock unload blank coins onto a conveyor, the starting point of the materials handling system.
From there, the pallet of blanks in drums are barcode scanned and metadata is attached to each drum. An AGV then takes the drum from the basement and puts it in to storage. At the same time, the MES is monitoring production on the ground floor. Every evening, a night schedule runs which ensures that all of the finished goods from that day are taken to the new vault and new blanks are brought from storage in the basement, up the lift to the coin hold.
When the press runs out of blanks, the system automatically calls up the MES. The Kuka Titan robot takes delivery and decants the blanks in to the new vision counting system.
The vision counting system is a CCTV camera connected to a computer, which counts the blanks on the conveyor belt. The camera can count 15,000 blanks per minute and the blanks are then placed in the bucket elevator and delivered to the designated press.
"People have had to change their work habits because the system is thoroughly integrated from end-to-end, but at the same time we've tried to design it to be as friendly to the existing processes as possible," he said.
Overall, the project has been very successful in meeting the objectives: reducing occupational health and safety (OH&S) issues, increasing security and increasing productivity.
"We are finding that the AGVs are much safer and more reliable. Robots are never affected by having a bad night with the baby and falling asleep at the wheel. They are extremely accurate and they always do the same task in the same way."
To read the complete article, see:
Robots make the coins go round downunder
Wayne Homren, Editor
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