When Australian cannery SPC Ardmona switched their palletising system, they found other advantages other than just packing more pallets. The new system also opened up opportunities for new business.
Staying competitive in fast moving consumer goods business requires staying on top of the latest developments in safety and production technology. When, SPC Ardmona needed to replace their case palletisers, they saw an opportunity to get out of a new flexible automation system. SPC Ardmona already had a number of ABB Australia ’s robotic systems in their plants.
The challenge was to develop a high speed palletising system capable of handling a wide variety of pack types, sizes and pallet patterns from wrap-around cartons to open-top and shrink-wrapped trays of canned food. The system had to handle, cartons with layer stabilising glue on their tops, low profile open-top trays, shrink-wrapped trays and loose cans.
The heart of the system is a layer forming solution using the IRB 260 robot, available from ABB Australia. With the accuracy of the IRC5 conveyor tracking and the speed and robustness of the IRB 260, SPC Ardmona used a simple and reliable gripper. The robot comes down over the top of the carton on the in feed conveyor, slides the carton into the required position on the layer forming conveyor then lifts just off to clear the placed carton and goes straight back to grab another carton from the in feed.
The formed layer of cartons is transferred into the waiting gripper of an IRB 660 layer-palletising robot. The IRB 660 robot moves from the pickup position to the top of the palletising stack where the layer is released. Layers are formed so quickly, two IRB 660 robots are required to keep up.
The IRB 260 robots give flexibility in pattern and product handling that allows easier development of new products to suit consumer needs. The line was installed in early 2007, and is being well utilised. An increase in the rate of pallets produced was not the only benefit that SPC Ardmona have obtained from the new palletising solution.
With the robots, constant manual intervention is no longer necessary, and by removing the need for manual work, the company has found it easier to comply with safety and operational processes.