Packaging machines integrate robots to increase production flexibility

Rick Lingle in Robotics on November 25, 2014

One of the trends seen at Pack Expo reflected the growing use of robotics as both integral and integrated into original equipment manufacturers’ (OEMs) case packers and other machines and systems. Here are 5 examples in a Slideshow Gallery of robots handling pouches, blisters, tubes and Twinkies.

 

As seen in a report posted late last week, 5 trend-setting robots in action at Pack Expo, robots were found in booths throughout the many aisles of Pack Expo. This new Slideshow focuses on examples of robotics that are integrated into packaging machinery and systems as a more flexible alternative to traditional hard automation methods for loading, collating and other “middle of the line” packaging processes. Our next report will focus on end-of-line robotics from the show.

 

NOTE:  Use the red View Gallery button above to access the Slideshow Gallery.

 

1. Robotic case loading done in the “Twinkie” of an eye

Pearson Packaging Systems’ 6-axis FANUC Model M-10iA robot was busy loading cartons of Hostess Twinkies into cases.  It is able to pick at speeds of less than 3 seconds to output 10 cases per minute.

The demo mimics robotics installations at 2 different Hostess plants; you can find the Hostess case study posted last month here at the Pearson site.

 

2. Two robots are better than one: A robotic, all-in-one case packing system.

Delkor Packaging’s mid-speed, 150 pouches/30 cases per minute Model MSP-200 stand-up pouch packaging system combines a vision-based delta robot with a high-payload, long-stroke Fanuc M-710iC robot.

The vision-based M-2iA delta robot accepts skewed or misaligned pouches (+/-25°) at maximum product rate. The 710iC has the payload and stroke capability to load the latest SRP case designs as well as standard interleaved shippers. Semi-automated changeover allows the system to convert case styles in less than 10 minutes.

 

3. Delta robot operates at a “blister-ing” pace

An example of precise robotic handling for another type of packaging format, that of blister packs, was shown in the booth of KOCH Packaging Systems using a robot that can pick from sorted or unsorted infeeds for multiple product infeeds.  The KRH-D Delta robot is said to be suitable for suited for automated, hygienic extraction and placement of products and is capable of an “angular, rotational” pick.

 

4. Totally tubular robot: Coesia tube fill/seal system is anchored by robotic case loader.

The Nordenmatic 1703X tube filling and sealing machine is one of the latest developments from Norden that’s designed to handle tubes up to diameter 65mm. The machine is also equipped with an improved version of the Norden EasyWare control system, with an even more user friendly design, and uses an ABB robot for case loading.

 

5. So close it’s almost a robot: The Robo-Wand

According to the guidelines of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA),  a robot is defined as follows: "‘A robot is a reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools or specialized devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.’ Recently, however, the industry's current working definition of a robot has come to be understood as any piece of equipment that has three or more degrees of movement or freedom.”

The near-miss is Standard-Knapp’s Model 298 Tritium Trayshrink Packer that features a high-speed Robo-Wand wrapping module, capable of running up to 120 trays per minute and providing a consistent tight, wrinkle-free wrap. The Robo-Wand also offers multi-axis control for limitless packing possibilities without the need for change parts.

Alas, the wands’ 2-axis movement comes up one axis short of the RIA definition. With the idea of being inclusive, we’ve added it here because it provides an interesting, even valuable point of reference as to what a robot is and what it isn’t.

 

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