2D-code readers key to success of tyre automation system

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Autarky Automation is one of the leading British developers and manufacturers of automation and conveyor systems. To meet the demanding requirements on an automated tyre-fitting system, Autarky opted for the latest 2D-code readers from Leuze.

2D-code readers key to success of tyre automation systemA large part of what Autarky Automation offers is in the area of modular conveyor technology, based around a wide range of standardised components and accessories. The company thereby contributes to minimising project planning times and assembly costs. A good example of this is a recent project for Tyre-Line, a company which, since 1984, has supplied wheel and tyre assemblies for applications ranging from wheelbarrows to high-performance sports cars.

For a long time, Tyre-Line operated with a simple tyre inflation device for standard steel wheel sets. The tyres for high-end alloy wheels were inflated manually. Due to increasing growth in orders, a Hofmann tyre-filling machine was purchased that could handle the complete range of wheel and tyre assemblies.

The entire process of storing and retrieving assemblies in the machine was now to be automated. Autarky won the tender to produce a suitable conveyor system.

The challenge: round tyres

Attached to each wheel and tyre assembly at Tyre-Line is a slightly adhesive bar code label. It would have been too complicated for Tyre-Line to affix the label at exactly the same location on each assembly. Autarky was therefore charged with developing a solution that could reliably read the bar code, and could do so at any location and at any position over the entire width of the conveyor belt.

Brad North, managing director of Autarky, explains: "A round object that always looks the same independent of its position is a true challenge for a code reader. Proper identification of the assemblies was, however, of decisive importance for the success of the line: the detection of the bar code information needed to tell the Hofmann machine which assembly is approaching and, thus, what air pressure is necessary. That is why it was so important to select the best possible code reader for this task."

To solve this problem, Autarky turned to the Sensor People at Leuze. North explains: "After discussing the application with the Leuze experts, we selected the DCR 200i 2D-code reader." Leuze developed this model especially for fast and omnidirectional reading of 1D and 2D codes.

North adds: "We mounted three devices on a strap arrangement at the optimum angle and height so that the bar code could be read at any position on the assembly and the conveyor belt. In combination with the existing Profinet communication network, the DCR 200i 2D-code readers from Leuze detect data on the bar code. This is then passed on to the Hofmann machine." Autarky had already used hundreds of standard bar code readers and photoelectric sensors from Leuze. North says: "Our longstanding co-operation with Leuze and the good service made the decision easy for us."

Fast and reliable code reading

The DCR 200i camera-based code reader is used to detect and identify bar codes, stacked codes and Data Matrix codes. It is characterised, above all, by its very fast reading performance. The DCR 200i reads at speeds of up to 6m/s. It reliably reads 1D- and 2D-codes omnidirectionally. It does not matter whether the codes are printed or directly marked, static or moving, inverted or mirrored. This is ensured by the fast imager, the integrated high-performance LED illumination, as well as the high resolution in combination with a very high depth of field.

In the stainless steel housing model with IP69K/IP67 protection, the DCR 200i can be cleaned without problem and even used in harsh environments. Its compact design, its fastening concept and its simple handling means that the DCR 200i can be integrated easily and quickly in a wide range of different applications. This applies to its mechanical installation as well as its commissioning and configuration.

The DCR 200i series code readers are operated and configured using the graphical user interface of the integrated Leuze webConfig tool via an Ethernet interface. An external program is not required. The DCR 200i can be put into operation by the user in just three minutes using the configuration wizard. Moreover, a teach function is also included if required. This works via the two buttons on the control panel of the DCR 200i in combination with a smartphone app developed by Leuze for configuration. The result: greater throughput and higher accuracy.

North says: "Today, a wheel and tyre assembly passes through the inflation machine every seven seconds. In addition to the sheer speed, Tyre-Line also benefits from an increased inflation accuracy and repeatability. Because the automated system has eliminated any possibility for human error."

The conclusion drawn by Brad North is entirely positive: "At Tyre-Line, the Leuze 2D-code readers now work daily from morning to evening and help the company achieve significantly higher throughputs rates."

Follow the links to watch a video of the automated conveyor application at Tyre-Line and to find out more about DCR 2001 code readers from Leuze electronic.

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