Material Handling and Storage System

For our senior design project in the Engineering and Engineering Technology Department, our main focus is on automation using a PC system. The problem that we are faced with is, from a general stack of parts (dominos), to identify and sort by varying bar-codes, into various determined locations. Our solution to the problem was a system that consisted of 4 regions. Here is a description of each of those regions and what occurs at each one.

At the start of our process we needed a contraption that would feed one domino at a time onto our conveyor belt. We came up with the idea of the hopper. The hopper consists of a rectangular shaped holder that distributes the dominos, one at a time. The hopper is going to be constructed out of transparent sheets of fiberglass that are a quarter of an inch thick. It will be able to hold forty dominos, one on top of the other. At the bottom of the hopper there will be a slot the size of the domino. This is where an air cylinder arm will be placed to push the dominos onto the conveyor belt, one at a time.

The hopper will be 12" in height, and have a width of 1-3/8". The dimensions of one domino are: 1/4" thick x 13/16" wide x 1-5/8" long. This will allow the dominos to fit in firm, so that they do not move around and they will all stay in a flat position. This will allow the dominos to be moved to the conveyor belt without jamming up the hopper, and will keep the domino in the right position for when the bar-code reader reads it.

The second region of this project is the conveyor. This particular region covers the trajectory along the conveyor and the different number of safety features along the way. The first device that we are going to find along the conveyor is a high accuracy fiber optic sensor. The sensor will be located in a strategic location at the beginning of the conveyor with the purpose of detecting the passage of the parts passing along the conveyor. This feature will reassure throughout using a time device (Micro-controller), that everything is working and functioning properly. This particular photoelectric sensor, unlike conventional fiber units, enables a wide-area of detection. Therefore, optical alignment is easy and detection is stable. In case of no detection of the part on the conveyor after a certain period of time, the system will shut down automatically. Then a red LED will turn on automatically indicating a problem on the system. The LED will be controlled by the Micro-Controller.

Along the conveyor we also are going to have a bar-code reader linked to a computer. The purpose of the bar-code reader is to identify the UPC number so that the computer can decide on the appropriate storage location of each part in correlation with their UPC number. The software that we will be using to accomplish these steps are Visual Basic 6.0 and Lab View. The Micro Controller will be using a kit that provides all the tools that are required. This particular Micro Controller provides the highest speeds, has a large memory, and contains numerous options for i/o's.

The next region will be the lifting mechanism. Its job is to receive the part from the conveyor and move it to a storage location. A xy-axis machine from Isel Automation is what the platform will use for movement in x and y directions. We will be using stepping motors from Nanotech out of Germany. These motors are 3.4 volts, 2.85 amps, and 1.8 degrees; and one will be placed in each direction.
The final region of the project is the storage location. This will be made out of transparent fiberglass. Each storage location will have the dimensions of 2"x 2". A bar-code value will be assigned to each location and the proper domino will be sent to its proper location in the cabinet. There will be sensing devises on it that will allow for communication back