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Smart software boosts snack packing system at KP Foods' factory in Billingham, Cleveland, UK.

Article-Smart software boosts snack packing system at KP Foods' factory in Billingham, Cleveland, UK.

The KUKA PalletTech software is specially designed to streamline the round-the-clock palletising operation at KP Foods, which comprises conveyors and a pair of 30m Güdel gantries fitted with bridges and vacuum gripper tools.

The vacuum grippers can pick up to 3 boxes at a time and make as many as 3 separate drops onto the pallets. A range of box sizes can be handled by the system which is capable of palletising to 32 different locations. It can also handle empty Chep pallets.

Each gantry has its own KUKA control panel which enables the operator to monitor the palletising process, which was previously performed by hand at the end of each production line.

"While the gantry system offered the most cost-effective, automated solution that could be accommodated in the available space in the factory, the challenge for KUKA was to adapt its PalletTech software which is designed for use with robotic palletising operations," explained Paul Richards, general sales manager at KUKA Automation + Robotics.

"One of KUKA's top software developers, Ed Volcic, together with KUKA's robotic palletising expert, Thomas Michel, set about creating a bespoke program which could transform a time-consuming, manual task into a high-speed and efficient operation," he added.

The software program was developed from a series of complex calculations which had to take into account varying box patterns, box sizes, pallets and slip sheets. Members of KP Foods' engineering team also visited KUKA's global sales centre in Gersthofen, Germany, to view trials of their products being palletised on a demonstration gantry.


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