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Automating an egg packing plant

26 April 2021

Egg producer, Bird Bros, has successfully automated its end-of-line packing operation which handles around four million eggs every week. 

Pushing the environmental benchmark, Bird Bros operates a low carbon packing centre. Since Endoline Automation integrated four, 251 slimline case erectors into the egg packer’s Bedfordshire factory, the company has already reported efficiency gains of up to 10%. 

Supplying multiple retailers and caterers – both locally and nationally – Bird Bros produces 30,000 boxes of eggs every week, ranging from smaller, retail sized consumer packs to larger food service and catering boxes.

In a bid to automate the egg packing process, eliminate waste and increase overall efficiency, Bird Bros installed two new, MOBA MR-12 dual robot loading cells. 

The twin capabilities of the robotic systems allows for the independent processing of two individual packing lines and Endoline, who work with MOBA as a preferred supplier of case erectors, was called upon to install machinery to manage the flow of formed boxes into the MOBA systems. 

Four of the slimline case erectors were integrated into the packing lines, to work in tandem with the MOBA loading cells. 

Measuring just 1m by 2m, almost half the size of traditional case erectors, the new case erectors offer space savings on the factory floor. 

In addition, due to the shape of the area in which the systems were due to be installed, Endoline created a layout to work within the restricted space. The company also designed the conveyor layout, installing chain transfer conveyors to make quick 90°turns, to reduce the overall length of the system. 

The case erectors are now erecting and loading four different case formats simultaneously at speeds of up to nine cases per minute. However, with greater speed capacity, Bird Bros now has the flexibility to increase its offering and take on further business if required.  

The filled packs are then fed through a fully automatic random case sealer which was installed within the Bird Bros factory several years ago. 

Automating the process has enabled Bird Bros to reduce waste as Matthew Bird, the commercial operations director explains: “The smaller, catering packs are inherently difficult to pack. Due to the manual nature of packing eggs, waste can be an issue, however as a result of automating the lines, this has been eliminated. With increased efficiency, we have also decreased supply time so, where eggs have a shorter best before date, we have also reduced food waste for the end user.”

Significantly, by automating the entire process the eggs are not touched by human hand until they reach the consumer.

The last word goes to Joe Fox, technical projects manager at Bird Bros who led the project concludes: “We are delighted with the automated packing lines. Not only has it enabled us to increase efficiency and redeploy employees who were previously working in monotonous, repetitive packing roles, it has also enabled us to meet sustainability goals”.

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