The hottest robot is moving forward

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Robots are moving forward

with the continuous development of technology, robots are no longer the patent of the rear stacker, but begin to set foot in other stations of the packaging production line

in the last decade of the 21st century, public opinion unanimously believes that after history enters the 21st century, the world will change greatly, and many things imagined by futurists will become a reality. Cars will be able to fly and carry, food can be cooked in minutes rather than hours, and robots will replace human beings to complete all the tasks that human beings are unwilling to do

the changes in reality are not as fast as predicted (just look at the traffic flow during the rush hour), but honeycomb and microwave have been available for many years, and robots have also changed from the original novelty to the time-saving and labor-saving meritorious equipment in all industries today. In the packaging industry, robots are no longer limited to the stacking of the rear section of the production line, but begin to participate in the production of the smallest and most difficult products in the field of primary packaging. Richard Tallian, the robot Department Manager of ABB automation company (Littleton, Colorado), said that one of the goals of the robot system is to replace the operator to carry out a packaging production. In the process of packaging production, compared with manpower, automated one-time packaging production is more cost-effective, which can reduce the potential risk of workers' health damage, stabilize production capacity and improve the health status of products

generally speaking, one-time packaging refers to putting a product into its separate packaging. Tallian said that in most cases, automated assembly lines dominate the production of orderly products. Such products have regular shapes (like soldiers standing on a conveyor belt one by one), small product damage and strong rough handling resistance (they can resist the stress of transmission and operation process). On the other hand, vision guided grasping and releasing robots are more suitable for producing products that are more fragile than our environment. Tallian also provides a simple three-point plan to analyze whether a packaging line can add robots. End users should check their current production process and make the following analysis:

how much does the robot system equipment cost

how much space does the system take up

can robots effectively produce products

the following are several application cases from different markets. In these examples, robots are installed in different positions on the packaging production line to achieve effective production, said Laura Bowman, chairman of trade partnership, a Washington consulting company


tallian mentioned a recent case. A frozen food customer (unwilling to disclose its company name) asked abb to provide it with a packaging solution for frozen meat products. The company's freezer produces frozen meat at the rate of 1000 pieces per minute, and the meat pieces are then transferred into a row of horizontal fluid wrapping machines for wrapping. When the meat comes out of the freezer, it is easy to be broken in different directions, and sometimes it will bond with each other. The irm340sa delta robot provided by abb is responsible for orienting the meat pieces and placing them on the cross feed conveyor of the wrapping machine (with a speed of 200 packets/clock). We have proved that this vision guided grasping and releasing robot system is successful, but this is only the beginning, he said: This is only a part of this project

the production of frozen meat is carried out in a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) meat environment (requiring daily system cleaning). ABB uses a vacuum tool to develop a cleaning vacuum system that can be cleaned and tested daily

this system was jointly developed by this user, abb and anver company (Hudson, Massachusetts). We specially equipped it with an anver TT series delivery pipe. Tallian said: the advantage of this vacuum technology is that every day, the cleaning solution can be sucked out through the vacuum channel without dismantling the machine

the requirement of daily cleaning also affects the automation of other parts. In order to facilitate the daily off-line disinfection and improve the transmission efficiency of products from the refrigerator to the loading position of the robot, abb must design a product holding tool that can be quickly disassembled. This faces several problems: the product distribution and instantaneous product density faced by robots are far worse than originally expected. It is necessary to improve the algorithm and mechanical performance of some equipment in other non robot systems, so as to reduce their downtime and adapt to the product flow of the whole system

the high-speed visual camera can analyze different system behaviors and assist in a lot of correction work. In most cases, the problems analyzed are the basis for formulating system parameters. If a complete robot cycle takes 0.55 seconds, we need to minimize the moving distance and optimize the vacuum acquisition and product grasping time to milliseconds. Tallian said: ABB Robot has a feature called fixed position events, which can realize the optimal control of gripper i/o operation at the millisecond level

the success of this project has prompted this meat product enterprise to install robot systems for its production lines of frozen dinner, cheese pieces and cooked meat products

When voortman cookies was founded, it only had two rooms in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, with only two brothers. Today, it has grown into a large enterprise worth tens of millions of dollars, with 500 employees, and an advanced factory covering 300000 square feet in Burlington, Ontario. Voortman originally only produced Dutch pastry. Today, it produces more than 9 million cookies a day (24/7). In order to meet the packaging needs of its 50 biscuit varieties, voortman has been using robots, and there are more and more robots on its packaging production line

recently, this 56 year old company purchased a new brand of delta robot to grab and place the packaging production line. The supplier is Sigpack systems, a subsidiary of Bosch packaging technology (Switzerland). 15 delta robots xr31 robots use a gentle and precise suction cup to grab fresh baked single biscuits from the conveyor belt, and then put them on the anti-theft plastic tray. These robots provide precise placement and very gentle processing for 17 kinds of biscuit products now produced, with a speed of 80000 biscuits per hour. Just changing a software prescription can complete the production conversion between different packaging forms in just a few minutes

the advantage of robots is that they can be engaged in mass packaging production. Fred heikamp, plant and equipment manager of voortman company, said: before buying these robots, we have to package cookies manually. Repetitive movements have caused many employees to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Thanks to robots, employees no longer complain

the robot is programmed to grab only products of a specific size from the conveyor, ignoring cookies of other sizes, which will continue to be transported to an external rejection box. Of the 14 robots, each has a vision system to scan the size of the product, and assist the robot to wrap cookies vertically or horizontally at the speed of 1400 pieces per minute. After the tray is filled with cookies, it is transferred to a Sigpack systems HBM fluid wrapping machine, which has a wrapping speed of 120 trays per minute

Heikamp said that the suitability of delta robots for users is one of the decisive factors that voortman likes. Employees only need a small amount of training to keep up with the speed of this new production line, which reduces the bottom line cost of voortman

long before voortman, pepper farm (Norwalk, Conn.) had used robots to produce baked goods and snacks, and the latter was recognized as one of the early explorers of robot applications. In 1988, 20 years ago, Pepperidge farm installed a 16 arm robot system for its Milano biscuit production line; At the same time, it installed an 18 arm robot system for its Denver, Pennsylvania plant

Alan Beehler, operation director of blueprint Robotics (Boulder, Colorado), said that in addition to being recognized as a user of the front-end robot system, pepeeridge farm, a baking giant, has always been at the forefront of the implementation of robot applications

peperidge farm installed a visual guidance system from blueprint and ABB's flex picker robot for a production line, which almost doubled the production of this production line

the work that 16 robots used to do now only needs 8 to complete. Beehler said: the old system can load 100 ~ 120 cookies at a time. Don't dry too hard, and this visual guidance guide plus flex picker can load 180 ~ 190 cookies per minute

he cited this case to illustrate that although the demand is growing, it does not promote the growth of robot usage, but makes robots cheaper and cheaper, application software simpler and simpler, and production speed faster and faster


murry company (upper Marlboro, Maryland) is a frozen food manufacturer. It was founded in 1948 to produce frozen hamburgers and steaks. After three generations of development, this family business now has 150 different frozen food production lines, including the production line of its best-selling product, French toast sticks

french toast sticks is generally packaged in soft bags, and the whole process of bag forming, product filling and bag sealing is completed by the vertical forming/filling/sealing VFFS machine. After that, the conveyor transfers the bags to the manual packaging workbench, and the operator grabs the products and manually loads them into the box

in order to improve and accelerate this packaging process, Murry company found Bradman Lake Group (Charlotte, North Carolina). This is the third cooperation between the two companies. Bradman Lake provides a customized robot loading system, which is connected with the previously installed automatic carton forming and sealing machine

a double headed hs2/60 locking molding machine will open the cartons loaded on the top. A specially improved lj/srt grabs and places the robot cartoning machine instead of the original manual loading. French toast sticks are loaded into two cartons of different sizes, and then an FCC compact 3 closer seals the cartons at the speed of 120/min. This system can maintain the continuity of cartoning in a longer period of time, meeting the expectations and needs of manufacturers for greater production and efficiency

these machines were put into production as soon as they were installed, reducing the material and labor costs by nearly 20% to 30%. Tony Lucci, vice president of production of Murry company, said: this new robot production line increased the production capacity by 10%, so we saved at least $400000 a year

the fourth machine on this line is responsible for packing distribution boxes, which are then transported to Murray's supermarket and catering market

the robot production line located in Murry's North Carolina factory proves that Bradman lake can provide a complete packaging production line on its own

these machines have created a lot of benefits for this frozen food manufacturer. Nick bishop, vice president of sales and marketing of Bradman lake, said: there is no doubt that the biggest practical benefit is the reduction of labor costs. This industry is a traditional field with concentrated labor force. It's inconceivable that this automatic grab is now placed in each class of the system

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