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Robot Portion Loading
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Oct 01, 2004
More Service and Healthcare stories
Robots can effectively perform in a number of vital production roles including, for example, the picking up and placing of individual products or groups of products from, say, a conveyor to packaging trays.

There’s nothing particularly new or revolutionary about ‘Picking and Placing’ except that where fresh or ‘floppy’ products, like fresh meat or stacks of bacon are concerned, it has been startlingly ineffective – until now.

AEW Delford Systems have introduced a Robot Portion Loading System (RPLS) that will pick single, fresh or frozen, bone-in or boneless meat portions or sliced groups – like bacon or cooked meats – from a portioning slicer, saw or conveyor and place them straight into trays or thermoformers ready for packing.

The company has worked closely with one of the world’s leading robot manufacturers, ABB of Sweden, to produce this new system which utilises vision technology to accurately recognise the position and orientation of portions on the conveyor. This enables the machine’s unique, mechanical action gripper to gently – but quickly – lift, transfer and place the portioned product with great accuracy into the tray or thermoformer.

High levels of hygiene are achieved with RPLS and the smooth, consistent gripper movement minimises the risk of product damage – providing production continuity and excellent presentation.

The robot portion loading system (RPLS) has the ability to identify incorrectly sized or misshapen portions and place them as required – or allow them to pass down the line for further grading. The system will have the ability to regulate product quality and specification by assessing fat content levels through the portion’s size and shape.
When combined and interfaced with an AEW Delford Systems portioning slicer or saw, the advantages of high output, high yields, superb product presentation, speed of production, space saving and flexibility in terms of application, become very obvious and indeed, attractive.


Production output and speed can be varied according to needs – from small to medium sized and even high volume applications. Up to six pick and place head units can be operated from a single vision and control system, providing a very high level of flexibility and throughput at an economical price.

Furthermore, each of the six heads can be programmed as required to perform different tasks e.g. varying product presentation layouts (such as singles or shingles) or the number of products in a tray.

RPLS can be designed, adapted and tailored precisely to a client’s needs. It can be integrated with and interfaced to, virtually any other machine in a production system e.g. slicers, saws, thermoformers and tray sealers. AEW Delford Systems stress that while the RPLS has already been successfully demonstrated, its full potential and ability have yet to be realised. Several leading processors have expressed considerable interest and production trials in a number of plants are under way.

For further information please contact Terry Starkey at:
AEW Delford Systems, AEW THURNE Ltd, Pinetrees Road, Norwich NR7 9BB, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1603 700755 Email:

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