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Robotic palletiser boosts bagging line productivity at Muntons

24 October 2012

A new turnkey robotic palletising line from Brillopak looks set to yield a return on investment within less than 18 months of installation by doubling throughput at the Stowmarket factory of malted ingredients manufacturer Muntons.

Muntons has been producing malt and malted ingredients for over 80 years and is a significant player in the supply of malts, malt extracts, homebrew kits, flours and flakes to the international food and drinks industry. With growth in both domestic and overseas demand, the company was seeking to increase capacity and, as part of this, required a robotic palletising solution that would boost throughput by 50 per cent and contribute to its lean manufacturing objectives.

The Brillopak solution comprises a dual line robotic palletising system incorporating a Nachi LP 130 four axis robot together with the Brillopak STD1 Gripperhead incorporating vacuum for slip sheets, two pallet dispensers, bag flatteners, integrated metal detectors, label printers together with a stretch wrapper with hooder, plus all infeed and outfeed conveyors.

The company created and tested 65 different pallet load recipes for the robot, accommodating every conceivable combination of bag size and type. Brillopak also provided a thoughtful solution to the problem of restricted ceiling space, mounting the robot on a plinth to increase its reach range, allowing it to work round obstacles like slipsheets and sacks despite the low ceiling.

Programmed with different recipes for each line, the robot feeds two different pallet stations, each of which has its own pallet dispenser. The robot head auto adjusts for different bag sizes and loads two pallets at a time. Full pallets are moved down the line to a stretch wrapper with hooder. From there they are fed to a series of outfeed conveyors. This is an improvement on the previous line in that fork lift trucks are no longer needed to transfer pallets to the stretch wrapper.

The entire system is driven from a single, simple colour touchscreen HMI. The robot signals are fed to the HMI meaning that there is no requirement for the operator to use the robot pendent. The system is safety zoned into two areas with safety guarding and CAT 4 light guards.

The line is capable of 600 sacks per hour, far surpassing Muntons’ expectations.
“We wanted 50 per cent more throughput but we got more. The previous palletising system did 300 bags per hour; this line can do twice that,” explains David Mercer, project engineer at Muntons. “Hopefully in time we’ll fulfil that capacity.

“This was why I wanted a system that would be simple to operate, with minimal downtime and line stoppages.”

Muntons was particularly impressed with Brillopak’s attention to detail and quality of engineering.

“We could see that it was robustly designed using only top quality components and that the layout had been carefully thought out right down to the last detail,” says David Mercer.

“We also wanted a robot that would be easy for us to programme. For example, slightly changing the position of sacks on a pallet is often quite a difficult thing to do, whereas with the Brillopak palletiser, it is easy.”

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