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Food Processing Awards - Robotics & Automation

15 August 2013

To cast your vote for the Robotics & Automation category of the Food Processing Awards 2013 simply email your choice to chris.shaw@imlgroup.co.uk

Robotics & automation 

1) Endoline Machinery 
The company installed a fully automated case erecting a robotic loading solution within Nairn’s Oatcakes - the number one producer, and leading brand of oatcakes in the UK – which has automated a previously labour intensive operation, improved efficiency, and overcome previous limitations to meet retailer expectations on shelf ready applications.

New criteria set out by supermarkets and food suppliers for the design and performance of shelf ready cases to be more accessible. Endoline installed a case erecting and robotic loading solution to fully automate the packing line. A hot melt glue application was recommended for the case erector as it secures the base of the box without producing an overlap which can often be the case with tape applications – allowing Nairn’s to meet supermarket shelf ready expectations.

2) Pacepacker Services
Customer Installation – Mars Horsecare
Equipment supplied by Pacepacker – FANUC 410 palletiser with twin grab technology
Product – Sacks of horsefeed

Overview
Supplying almost a third of the UK horsefeed market, Mars Horsecare UK Ltd manufactures and packs over 35,000 tonnes of Spillers Nutritional Horse Feed, in compound/mix form, per year - 82% of which is sold directly to UK wholesalers and retailers while the remainder is exported to Europe, Middle East and Far East. 

Pacepacker was approached by Mars Horsecare UK Ltd to replace an existing 20-year-old palletiser, which palletises over 18,000 tonnes of their branded course mix feed per year from two production lines. This old palletiser had been become increasingly unreliable and costly to maintain. 

Pacepacker has been a FANUC strategic partner for 15 years. Pacepacker integrate FANUC pick and place and palletising technology.

Looking for speed and reliability, Pacepacker installed a FANUC 410 palletising system with twin grab technology. The system is unusual as you don’t see twin grab technology that often, pictured below, yet it gave the robot the capability of simultaneously picking and palletising the bags from each of the two production lines – fed to it at a combined rate of almost 700 bags per hour.

As a direct result of Pacepacker’s automation solution Mars has reduced maintenance costs by 90% on their palletising line, while overall efficiency of the bagging and palletising operation has increased to deliver an overall output of 300 tonnes of bag packed horsefeed per day. 

3) Newtech
As a result of recent customer demand, Newtech has now developed an ‘in-tray’ cutting solution for its roboSONIC range of slicers. Many of Newtech's customers bake in traditional 30” x 18” trays and de-pan prior to portioning. Although this has several advantages, cutting in-tray suits many operations. Using a specially sized ultrasonic blade and tray detection method to ensure safe operation and no risk of blade or tray damage, the company has built its first in-tray robotic slicer. The system gives the user all the options of its conventional de-pan slicer, where the product is cut on product boards – including trim cut and options for portion size control and speed of cut. Options for full size and half size trays are available.

4) Mitsubishi Electric 
Food safe robotics and 3D vision combine to create the ultimate depositing solution 

The persistent problem with baked and food goods in general is the non-uniform shape of the finished product. This makes applying any kind of final decoration such as piped icing or other forms of decorative solutions in an accurate way very much a manual task. Mitsubishi Electric and Scorpion vision have teamed together to create a decorative depositing method that takes into account the irregular shapes, but maintains the height depositor above the work piece.  With such accuracy the decorative icing is applied in a repeatable way that allows the optimum time for the product to set.
 
The combined products from Mitsubishi Electric and Scorpion Vision have been brought together with the expertise of robot integrator Quasar Automation who are in the process of doing field trials.


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