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Robots help deliver fast palletising solution

27 August 2021

The use of a simulation tool helped optimise ROI on end-of-line robotic palletising operations for Radnor Hills. In addition it ensure that the lines started to deliver benefits from the first day of installation. 

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Robotics and automation specialists, RMGroup, has now installed a total of three end-of-line robotic palletisers for Radnor Hills, which manufactures a range of spring waters, flavoured waters, functional waters, school compliant drinks, premium sparkling pressés, fruit juices and own label brands. These solutions have enabled fast palletising of multi-packs in a variety of combinations, helping to improve production process efficiencies.

Radnor Hills first approached RMGroup in 2018 to investigate automating an end-of-line palletising operation with a robot arm. Packs of bottles needed to be palletised at a rate of 14 packs per minute. Given the throughput and pallet stack formats, RMGroup first needed to ensure that the robotic solution could multi pick packs up to four at any one time, and then place them onto a pallet in one’s, two’s, three’s or four’s, to keep up with the production line throughput. 

Simulating the solution
The use of ABB’s RobotStudio simulation and offline programming software tool helped RMGroup’s mechanical design and technical department find the best solution.  Utilising a bespoke gripper it was identified virtually that the robot  would be able to stack the packs onto pallets at the desired rate. By allowing RM Group’s engineers to experiment with different options, RobotStudio also helped to identify which robot would be best suited for the project, helping to optimise the project return on investment (ROI). 

Following the success of the initial installation, RMGroup supplied another two end-of line palletising systems at the site. A second was installed on Radnor’s Tetra Pak line to palletise cardboard cartons from dual production lines at a rate of six cases per minute; while a third line was installed on the canning line, involving a much higher output of 24 packs, 12 of which needed to be palletised on euro pallets, at a rate of 20 cases per minute. 

“One of the key benefits of working with RMGroup is that they listen to us,” said David Pope, general manager at Radnor Hills. “They take on board our requirements and come back to us with solutions to make it happen”.

This project ably highlights the value that of ABBs RobotStudio offline programming software which can help develop and refine solutions virtually, so that the physical solution is able to start delivering benefits as soon as it is installed on the factory floor.

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