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Palletising robot quadruples production capacity

29 August 2016

Speciality Breads has cut palletising times in half by installing second robotic system which has allowed it to keep pace with its daily production of 100,000 individual loaves from a new state of the art bakery. 

Speciality Breads produces over 100 different types of handmade breads at its Margate bakery. The loaves are freshly frozen and supplied to wholesalers throughout the UK. 

Since winning a contract to supply bread and rolls to the London Olympics in 2012, the company has seen consecutive year on year growth of 30%. To increase production capacity and drive new product development it opened a new bakery in 2015. “It was vital that we invested in the latest infrastructure and resources to help us continue to drive further growth in the years to come,” explained Peter Millen, managing director at Speciality Breads. 

Final piece of the puzzle
One of the final pieces of the puzzle was finding a palletising solution to stack cases of loaves onto pallets. Given the budget and space constraints  – this was the last piece of kit to go into the factory – Pacepacker designed a single static 4 x 3.5m cell incorporating its second user Blu-Robot which consists of re-conditioned robots, originating primarily from the automotive industry, which are typically half the cost of a new system, offering a far quicker payback. 

Within the space of a week, Pacepacker had commissioned and installed the system, and trained the staff on how to use it, leaving Speciality Breads with a fully operational robotic palletiser. “Pacepacker’s team worked very closely with our production manager and team to ensure the fitting process was seamless and we had all the support required to get it up and running with a minimum of fuss,” explained Millen.

Cases from the high care area enter the cell on a powered roller conveyor and are presented to the robot narrow edge leading. The floor-mounted six-axis FANUC S420 articulated robot arm picks the cardboard boxes and places them, in configuration, on the pallet, using a multi-cup vacuum gripper. Once full, the pallet is removed from the cell on a motorised pallet truck, and an operator puts a new pallet in its place. 

According to Millen, investment in the new bakery has allowed Speciality Breads to increase its production capacity four-fold while helping to modernise certain parts of the business and improve staff skills.

Together the two bakeries now produce over 100,000 individual loaves every day. The robotic palletiser is easily able to cope with this volume, which equates to approximately 50 pallet loads per day. 

Automating this part of the process has been a revelation, for Speciality Breads.  Millen said: “We were previously palletising manually, which was time consuming and slow. The new system has revolutionised the process, making it easier and quicker to get pallets ready for delivery.” The company expects the robot to pay for itself within three years, but the business is already reaping the benefits of the investment through more efficient palletising. “The new system has cut the palletising time in half so it is already paying dividends and helping us to increase production and drive new business and growth,” said Millen. “ The time saved on making up pallets, has enabled our bakers to spend more time on what they do best – baking the best bread.”


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