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Dynamically self-aligning picker in an automated storage library Disclosure Number: IPCOM000014106D
Original Publication Date: 2000-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-19

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In today’s automated date storage libraries, dynamic picker accessor alignment is a very desirable feature. Due to shipping, or wear picker/cartridge bin alignment may change, which may result in customer outage, or reduction in component life. With this invention the load characteristic of the system can be refined continuously, thus keeping it finely tuned at all time, which will result in longer life components, and customer outage reduction. The design consists of having an electronic alignment module that is made of the same, or similar shape to the cartridge module (used for that particular library), see Figure 1 2. The alignment module consists of logic circuitry that can be housed inside the electronic module, and can communicate in a wireless link mode to the autochanger. The back of the electronic module will have a pressure sensor plate which pivots on a center shaft and has the same characteristics of an IBM track point, which can sense pressure up to 400 mg. in the X, Y or Z direction, or any combination. The pressure measurements are digitally recorded and can be sent to the autochanger via the wireless link in a serial mode. The sides of the module have contacts for recharging the battery inside the electronic module when placed in a recharging station see Figure 2A. The front of the module will have 2 recessed optical reflective sensors for finer alignment resolution. The picker will have a thin plate with a reflective alignment targets see Figure 2B. The coarse adjustment is done via the pressure sensor plate, and the fine alignment is done via the reflective sensor. In order to align the picker to a specific bin, cartridge slot location, or drive, the picker will pick the electronic module from its recharge station, and then by first aligning itself to it, and recording and storing the new coordinates into the autochanger memory. The targets are on the picker, and the reflective sensors are looking at the picker (front of the module exposed to the picker). The picker will then attempt to insert the module in a specific location/bin using an iterative approach, in case it is not able to load it into the bin. The iterative approach consists of moving the picker in baby steps towards the slot, and continuously monitoring the pressure feed back numbers, backing off baby step wise, compensating for those adjustment numbers, and then moving forward again, until the module is inserted into the bin within an allowable force threshold value. Then the picker will refine its alignment to that bin section by using the reflective sensor, and the targets. The 2 reflective sensors should align to the horizontal target line, and then to the 2 vertical lines. 1