Mail sorting system requires compact, high performance, linear motion system
Even though e-mail, online bill pay, and shopping are on the rise, print mail is by no means disappearing. Mailing facilities are continually seeking new ways to improve delivery times and hasten the entire mail sorting process by integrating automaton and robotics into their facilities. Enter Capstone, a design manufacturer that specializes in automating the repetitive manual tasks associated with print mail. Capstone designed a large-scale mail sorting and packaging system named Autoviri.
The complete Autoviri packing system was gargantuan, with 99% complete packing automation from beginning to end. Capstone required a system that was robust, could operate at high speeds and could run 24/7 with virtually no maintenance upkeep. The linear motion system also had to fit into the already specified profile Ellison had specified.
The PBC Linear solution
Based on the initial loading and motion profile requirements, Ellison chose PBC Linear’s compact MTB042 as it fit into the narrow envelope of the transfer area. Initial prototype testing showed that unplanned impact forces and higher than expected moment loads were being place on the MTB042 actuators due to variations in the re-used mail trays which would sometimes cause interferences and jams. This resulted in damage to the actuator’s carriage. The stock MTB042 actuator did not have enough load capacity for the unexpected loading that was occurring, and a larger actuator would not fit. Ellison requested PBC Linear’s assistance. After evaluating the application with an on-site investigation, PBC Linear used Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to model the loading and then designed and supplied special MTB042 actuators able to handle the impact loads and higher moments.
PBC Linear installed an external Mini-Rail linear guide support on the side of the actuator for more pitch moment capacity and robustness against impact load. A reinforced carriage was designed. PBC Linear even outfitted the special MTB042 with ports so that the actuator body could be supplied with pressurized air for creating positive body pressure and preventing the ingress of paper dust. Internal bearing blocks with extra seals were installed for further robustness against dust. The special design still fit into the compact working envelope and provided the reliable mail tray transfer that Capstone required.
Results / ROI
Capstone’s Autoviri system with PBC Linear’s optimized actuator was an immediate success. The packaging system Ellison provided was able to continually run 24/7 without unplanned shutdowns, cycling up to 1 billion pieces of mail per year automatically.