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Ellingham Grain upgrades Pacepacker equipment to support export growth

24 March 2011

Suffolk based Ellingham Grain, an agricultural commodities packer of dried pulses and beans, has improved product presentation and increased their capacity by upgrading two 15 year old Pacepacker sack placing and packing lines with new MKIII ticket dispensers and a FANUC R2000 robotic palletising system.

Ellingham Grain’s Managing Director Anthony Smith comments: “In recent years we have seen a substantial growth in export markets, particularly in the Middle East and Europe, and subsequently our business has grown from 12,500 to 22,000 tonnes of pulses and beans in the last 3 years.

“Our desire to increase capacity, coupled with recent customer demand for a more professional looking pack, made us look at how we could upgrade our existing Pacepacker packing lines, which have served us so well for 15 years.”

Upgrades to Pacepacker’s two existing bagging lines, which included a ticket dispensing system that unfolds, guillotines and attaches a premium product label onto woven polypropylene sacks ranging from 10kg to 25kg, achieved the desired pack presentation, reduced operator involvement, and increased throughput by 25%.

“Not only has the dispensing system enabled us to use our own in-house designed and printed label to consistently produce a premium pack, it no longer needs operator intervention to place or adjust the label during the stitching process. This simple upgrade has given our equipment a new lease of life and automated what was once a labour intensive process which in turn has created the additional capacity that we were looking for,” remarks Anthony.

Completing the line, Ellingham Grain used Pacepacker’s expertise as a FANUC Strategic Partner to explore robotic palletising options which could deal with the inherent inconsistent handling properties of the polypropylene sacks and one which would fit into a restricted production area with limited headroom.

“We specified the highly flexible and compact six-axis FANUC R-2000iB/210F with a payload of 210kg, repeatability of 0.5mm and a working reach of 2650mm,”comments Pacepacker Sales Manager Ian Merchant. “Inside the robot grippers we incorporated an integral top grip pressure plate, which pushes down on the levelled bag as the grippers pick it up, so that the bag does not distort. This design feature ensures that the product is not displaced and overcame the problem of handling Ellingham’s non-ridged bags,” adds Ian.

“Palletising is no longer a labour intensive process; the robotic system has enabled us to make better use of our staff in other areas of production to aid our expansion,” explains Anthony. “I’m pleased to report that it consistently creates an accurate and uniform neat stack of 45 sacks per pallet and has increased our throughput by 50%,” concludes Anthony.

Pacepacker’s MKIII ticket dispenser upgrade can be retrofitted to most Pacepacker sack closing lines currently in the field.

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