When it was no longer possible for manual stackers to accurately and safely palletise the packed boxes of crisps at speed, the international manufacturer of potato chips called upon the expertise of Pacepacker, a FANUC strategic Partner, to explore robotic palletising options.
The solution – a four-axis FANUC M-410 – was initially integrated onto one of the packing lines and was feed by two separate production lines resulting in a combined output of 1,000 boxes per hour.
A key factor to the success of this original installation was the M-410's ability to handle multiple box sizes – up to 30 per production line – with no downtime between changeovers. Chris Sumner, managing director at FANUC UK commented: "Pacepacker incorporated vacuum technology onto the FANUC to offer durability with the strength and capability to maneuver up to nine boxes at any one time. The robots were pre-programmed with a menu of different variations and recipes suited to the company’s needs so that the FANUC could handle multiple box sizes with very little manual interfacing."
Following the success of the initial installation, a further four FANUC M-410 robots were ordered. The final installation was made on a line packing the company’s boxes of multi-pack crisps – a new product offering recently launched by the snack manufacturer. Due to space constraints this new product was previously being packed by a third party co-packer - however this method was cost prohibitive. Furthermore there was only space within the factory for one additional production line.
To overcome this issue, Pacepacker fitted the M-410 with a double vacuum gripper so that the robot was capable of lifting an entire pallet layer of boxes from a single feed. As a consequence, the snacks manufacturer was able to bring the packing process of the multi-pack crisps in house.
Chris Sumner continued: "Manual palletising is a labour intensive process which can provide inconsistent pack quality due to human error. By automating this process the FANUC M-410 robots consistently create an accurate and uniform neat stack of boxes while enabling our customer to make better use of their staff in other areas of production. With the installation of the final FANUC M-410 on the new multi-pack crisp line they have been able to bring the process in house. Using the combined expertise of FANUC robotics and Pacepacker automated packaging solutions, the single line is achieving the same throughput as the two line production process."
Best suited to palletising tasks, the FANUC M-410 series with a handling capacity up to 700kg and a reach of 3143mm, presents an ideal option for a wide range of packing applications including the handling of boxes, crates and sacks in single or multiple formats.