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ICA conveyors create setting for ABB robots

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WHEN ABB was asked to provide a palletising and pallet management system for Victorian dairy producer, Bulla Dairy Foods at Colac in , it called in ICA to assist with the conveyor system needed for the project.

The project management team was Metromotion who supervised the project for the dairy company

Bulla has been producing dairy products since 1922 and employs around 220 people at its two state-of-the-art south-west Victorian manufacturing facilities.

ICA sales manager John Langley said ICA had been requested to provide a conveyor system for ABB's robotic multi-line case palletising system.

"We are a preferred supplier to ABB , and have undertaken a number of jobs with them. They rely on us because we are prepared to develop layout concepts to match their clients' needs and available space.

“The Bulla Dairy Foods project presented a number of challenges, the main one being to fit all the required equipment into the available area without compromising the accessibility and operations of the packaging and palletising systems."

"We are able to modify our equipment design if necessary, to suit each specific application, as we did with Bulla. Working closely with ABB, meant we were able to solve this problem through the use of our vertical continuous platen case elevators,” Langley said.

"By raising some of the packing lines, forklifts and personnel had access underneath. It gave the whole project a more compact air and was a better arrangement."

He said ICA's elevators/lowerators had a relatively small footprint with an extremely reliable indexing infeed system. This enabled Bulla to handle up to 30 cases a minute. He said due to the multiplicity of the case sizes, and the different lines the ABB robot cells had to handle, ICA had to also design special case orienting, collating and row forming pick-off conveyors, to meet the capacity requirements of each of the cells.

ABB's FlexPalletizer system at Colac had eradicated the need for hand stacking on seven of its product lines, significantly reducing potential occupational health and safety risks. Payback for the project under two years, Langley says.

“The company runs 10 lines with up to 300 bottles a minute. They have to be palletised, wrapped and refrigerated in under 10 minutes. And according to a spokesman from Regal, the ABB installation and new palletising system operates perfectly. "Change over from one product to another is achieved with the press of a button, with no mechanical change-over required at all," he said.

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