Gertrude Hawk Chocolates manufactures and packages its own brand of chocolates, which include chocolate-robed candies, as well as bars, boxed chocolates and caramel-dipped apples, in addition to a variety of sweets for its contract packaging customers.
When one of Gertrude Hawk ‘s customers experienced a surge in demand for one of its sugar-free chocolate lines, the chocolatier needed to quickly ramp up production speeds to 240 pieces of chocolate/min. To this aim, Gertrude Hawk partnered with Bosch Packaging Technology to create a solution that used one new piece of machinery but also leveraged existing Bosch machine.
Bosch Packaging Technology retrofitted a two-arm Delfi robotic placer to Gertrude Hawk's existing Linium 301 horizontal flow wrapper from Bosch. The Delfi feed placer, combined with the Linium 301 wrapper, allows the confectioner to produce the necessary 240 pieces of chocolate per minute, dropping the wrapped candies through a spiral chute into a bagger on the floor below the wrapper.
An integral vision system incorporates pattern recognition to quickly locate objects with accuracy. The vacuum cup end effectors are designed to handle fragile products without damage. Theoretically, this can improve the aesthetic quality for each individual chocolate. With hand-wrapped methods of packaging, center-filled candy, which may have a shell that is no more than an eighth of an inch thick, is extremely susceptible to impressions, nicks and other visual damage. Bosch's robotic system, and its ability to handle delicate products via suction cups, leaves no marks or impressions on the chocolates. The packaging line has a vision software system that distinguishes a product's parameters and orientation to ensure the suction cups gently handle the product. A color touch-screen HMI facilitates setup and changeover. According to Bosch, changeover can be accomplished in 5 minutes or less.
The Linium 301 horizontal flow wrapper is designed to maximize production uptime. A solid steel plate frame and food-grade product contact parts make the machine ideal for food applications. It is engineered with a low backlash end-seal drive for dependability. Special software features reduce the chance for jams and speed recovery when a jam does occur. The WinPack multi-axis controller uses a Windows CE operating system with data collection capability.
Bosch reports that the pick-and-place robot and Linium 301 wrapper allowed Gertrude Hawk to increase the productivity per shift by about 25 to 30 percent. Manpower demands also decreased 50 to 60 percent.