PICKING,PACKAGING & PALLETIZING
Picking falls under primary packaging. This is the activity where the individual items are picked and placed into flow wrappers or cleated conveyors for further packaging. The parts are fed randomly on a conveyor. High speed delta robots working in tandem with vision systems and conveyor line tracking functions are used for this operation. Products such as chocolates, bakery products, meat and small personal care products will be an ideal fit for high speed pick and place applications. Each robot can reach speeds upto 120 picks per minute Multiple robots can be mounted on a Overhead structure and the picking load is distributed between the robots by powerful application software.
Case packaging comes under secondary packaging. High speed filling lines churn out tens of thousands of unit cartons per hour. These need to be aligned and packed into cartons. Typical items include FMCG, pharma, food and industrial products. Multiple operators are required to service high speed filling and primary packaging lines.
Complete turnkey case packaging systems can be supplied with the following solutions,
- Automated Carton erectors. These are dedicated and suitable for high speed lines running the same carton type. Only one
carton type can be run at the same time. Manual or automatic setting change required for recipe change over.
- Robotic Carton erectors – These systems are more flexible. One robot can service 3 to 4 lines with a variety of carton sizes.
This provides an advantage over dedicated carton erectors.
- Bottom and top sealers.
- Product in feed systems and collation conveyors. Both lane type and servo collators are used based on the SKU’s and
flexibility required in the system.
- Robotic grippers. Vacuum, pneumatic and servo grippers can be used. Tool changers can be used if separate grippers are
required to handle multiple SKU’s
- Additional accessories such as online checkweighers, bar code readers and printers can be integrated into the line
Palletizing is a back breaking operation for humans. Usually high speed packaging lines churn out thousands of cartons per hour. Multiple SKU’s are also involved. Proper segregation and packaging is a very repetitive job . Production losses due to fatigue and back injuries are common. High speed 4 axis robots can be deployed to complete this mundane task. Robotic automation offers increased flexibility when compared to hard automation. Recipe changes are much quicker and can be automatic.
Infeed systems for cartons include gravity, powered roller conveyors and flat top belts. If accumulation buffers are required, zero back pressure accumulation belt conveyors can be added to the system. Spiral conveyors are used to elevate and lower cartons to and from overhead buffers.
Fixed palletizing systems are dedicated to each line. Every line has its own buffer and palletizer. This is suitable for high volume dedicated lines. The disadvantages are that if there is either a breakdown in the palletizer or packer, the entire line is down.
Flexible palletizing cells on the other hand offer better productivity when multiple packaging lines are present. They are required when multiple case packaging or cardboard packer lines produce a high volume of cartons. The cartons are collated, taken up to overhead buffers using spirals. The cartons are then transported to a dedicated palletizing area where multiple robotic cells are used to palletize a variety of SKU’s. Using bar code scanners and sortation systems such as Activated Roller Belt (ARB) conveyors, the cartons are sorted and fed to multiple pick point conveyors. Every cell could have a floor stacked pallet solution or have a set of pallet handling conveyors. Each robot can handle up to 3 SKU’s at a time depending on line speed. If the line speed is lower, the robot can be moved on a 7th axis track and more SKU’s can be serviced. These high speed robots are capable of 1500 cycles per hour.
A Variety of grippers are used to suit the application,
- Vacuum grippers can be used for stronger and lighter weight cartons, where higher line speeds are required.
- Pneumatic friction grippers with a bottom claw are the widely preferred and economical option.
- Servo grippers are more expensive and suitable for higher speed applications. They serve 2 purposes. They save cycle time where the size difference in cartons is high. They also protect the products inside the cartons which are prone to crushing when excessive force is applied. Higher speeds can be achieved with servo grippers.
- Robot grippers can also be designed to do additional functions such as slip sheet placement and empty pallet handling. This saves cost but increases cycle
Products such as rice, lentils, animal feed, carbonate, cement, gypsum and plastic pellets need to palletized for transportation to retailers. Bag weights vary from 10 to 50 kgs. For heavier bags above 15kg, two operators are required for stacking.Typically the line speeds vary from 7-8 bags per minute for heavier bags and go up to 20 bags per minute for lower weight bags. Robotic palletizing solutions are economical and offer the versatility required for frequent product and pattern changes.Claw type mechanical grippers are best suited for bag handling. To maximize the utilization of the robot, 2-3 lines can be serviced by 1 robot. These solutions are often integrated with other accessories.
Accessories for Carton and Bag Palletizing Solutions
- Pallet Dispensers. Due to the sheer volume of pallets required for high speed lines, pallet dispensers are a must. They improve the productivity by ensuring a constant supply of pallets to the palletizing stations. Pallet dispenser fed systems provide much better safety when compared to grounded pallet/floor stacking systems.
- Pallet inspection systems. Pallets can be inspected for strength and dimensional integrity prior to palletizing.
- Empty and filled pallet shuttles. A single pallet dispenser is used to service multiple load stations and filled pallets can be evacuated. These are suitable for low volume lines.
- Rail Guided Vehicle system (RGV). RGV’s can be deployed when a high volume of pallets need to be fed and evacuated. RGV’s offer the flexibility and speed required for these conditions.
- Base & Slip sheet dispensers. Base sheets are usually required on the base of the pallet, but in some cases, a slip sheet needs to be inserted between each layer.Automated slip sheets dispensers save valuable time, so that robot is dedicated to the palletizing operation.
- Empty and filled pallet conveyors. Both roller and chain type conveyors are used depending on the pallet weight and configuration.
- Online checkweighers. These devices measure the weight accurately while the bags/cartons are moving at the required line speeds. The bags that don’t conform to the specifications are rejected.
- Metal detectors. For food products, there is a chance of contamination in the upstream process. Metal detectors are used to identify impurities with metallic content.
- X ray machines. Metal detectors have their limitations. They do not detect impurities such as plastic, glass, wood and other non metallic objects. X ray machines are used to capture these foreign objects.
- Bag Flatteners – For powdered products such as flour, cement and carbonate, dual belt type bag flatteners are recommended. For granular products such as rice, lentils animal feed and plastic pellets, a square roller type flattener is more economical and solves the purpose. Bag flatteners make the bags compact and ensure consistent layer building.
- Bag Pushers and bag kickers. They are used to rotate and tilt bags
- Stretch wrappers. Depending on the line speed , different types of stretch wrappers are available
- For low speeds up to 25 pallets per hour – Turntable type
- For medium speeds up to 60 pallets/hr- Rotating arm type
- For High speeds – 140 Plus pallets per hour – Rotating Ring type
- Top cover placement options can be added for waterproof solutions
- Label Applicators – Side, front and back applicators are available to add the tracking functionality to stretch wrapped pallets.
Aluminium Ingot Palletizing
Aluminium Ingot palletizing is a tedious task. The ingots are heavy and sometimes hot. We specialize in Aluminium Ingot palletizing. Our customized grippers are capable of handling
- 10kg ingots in a 7 Ingot pattern
- 22 kg ingots interlocked in a 5 Ingot pattern.
We have provided solutions to top smelters such as Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) in UAE and Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA) in Bahrain. These highly customized grippers are very reliable. We use SS 304 materials for the frame construction and other specialized alloy steels for the wear and tear parts which are heat treated for long life.