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Motion filtering: Marshalling, steering and sorting

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Motion filtering: Marshalling, steering and sorting or Extracting order from chaos, by reinventing the wheel, roller and conveyor

History of conveying The 19th century saw the introduction of wheels, rollers and conveyors to manufacturing, which were able to move things forward in straight lines. These ‘1st generation product handling devices’ were key to early automation, as you no longer had to pick everything up by hand, move it and put it down again, but in modern terms they are far from perfect because every belt transfer and contact with the product degrades any initial regimentation, making automation increasingly tricky. From the 1990s, ‘2nd generation product handling systems’ started to become available, ‘cunning conveyers’ able not only to move products forward but also able to simultaneously manoeuvre product to exactly where you want it. Adrian Marshall and his food engineering consultancy ‘Crafty Tech’ have been key in devising such 2nd generation product handling solutions for bulk flows of soft, sticky and irregular foodstuffs. Such systems range from taking a chaotic random feed and producing neat batched segregated rows, to imposing a chosen format / orientation to bulk flows of products, so as to simplify subsequent processes.

Motion filtering The motion filtering technique which Adrian has developed creates a ‘universal source motion’, and then selectively ‘filters out’ parts of it which are then applied… it’s is a really neat way of generating complex movements. There’s obviously mathematics and modelling underpinning the choice of universal motion and its filtering, but with appropriate control systems, the maths lies hidden under simple (albeit cunning and elegant) mechanics. Motion filtering is behind many of Adrian’s 2nd generation product handling techniques, his ‘Marshalling Yard’ row aligner which is a sensor-less system which restores order to bulk flows by mimicking the action of surfers riding waves is probably the most well-known example, winning a Design Council Millennium Product award. The talk will describe the motion filtering technique, and illustrate its practical application, from its origin printing on pancakes, through its re-expression re-orientating individual brussel sprouts, creating ordered rows of pies from a chaotic feeds, to novel wheels that facilitate moving heavy tanks of chocolate around the factory. If time allows he’ll outline his plans for a locally steerable ‘Motion surface’ capable of directed movement of multiple objects, in all directions. There will be videos of the big machines, but smaller devices will be demonstrated live!

The examples use • wheels that do more than turn, • rollers that do more than roll, • conveyors that do more than convey

This talk is part of the IOP East Anglia Branch Applied Physics Seminars series.

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