The packaging of yogurt is not made any easier by complementary ingredients such as Crunchy Clusters which the end consumer adds according to personal taste. The ultra-nimble Stäubli FAST picker TP80 offers a well-known food brand a competitive edge in secondary packaging at its factory in Turkey.
In Turkey too, where food processing is an important sector of the economy, the demand for automation is soaring. Stäubli Robotics Turkey has been active in this industry for many years. System integrator 3E Industrial Automation and the Stäubli subsidiary in Turkey have collaborated on a pioneering project to take innovative solutions in secondary packaging to the next level.
The Danone production site for dairy products is where this is all taking place. The nature of the project was defined as follows: tubs of Crunchy Clusters and plastic spoons were to be affixed to the top of perforated twin packs of yogurt which had already been filled and sealed.
Up to 237 picks per minute
A time-consuming process previously carried out on a manual assembly line is now performed in record time by a Stäubli TP80 FAST picker. The yogurt twin packs and the tubs of Crunchy Clusters plus spoons arrive at the robot cell via two separate feed belts. Mounted alongside the conveyor belt, the FAST picker grabs two of the adhesive-coated complementary packs and places them on top of the twin yogurt pots.
The handling processes occur in fractions of a second – so fast that the human eye can barely keep up. The performance of the Stäubli TP80, which is equipped with a special vacuum gripper and receives the coordinates of the packaging elements via a high-speed visual recognition system, exceeds even the most ambitious expectations. With a measured top speed of 237 pick-and-place cycles per minute, it significantly outperforms the specified rate of 220.
The fact that this industrial robot more than matched factory performance data supplied by Stäubli under real production conditions – and this despite operating on Class NSF H1 food-grade lubricant – was a minor sensation for everyone involved. It has to be borne in mind that the FAST picker replaces two Delta robots in this application and consequently redefines the whole concept of a high-speed robot.
Convincing advantages for the manu-facturer
For the food producer Danone, this solution offers a number of advantages: first of all, in terms of space which, thanks to the cell configuration with only one robot, is minimal; secondly, a significant increase in production and improvement in quality is achieved; last but not least, it is exceptionally economical to operate, with reduced per item costs and a payback period calculated at approximately one year.
Many of the benefits flowing from this successful automation solution can be attributed to the USP of the FAST picker. With its unique design and the use of highly developed drive technology, the robot attains unparalleled operating speeds, which obviates the need for a second robot in this case with its attendant overheads. Furthermore, the FAST picker has been systematically fine-tuned for reliability and accuracy – factors that apply even after many thousands of operating hours. The usual manifestations of wear in continuous operation are excluded in this kinematic design with its rigid structure.
In addition, all lubricants and wiring are routed within the arm. There are no failure prone external cables or tubes. In the version deployed, the TP80 complies with protection class IP65. Also underscoring the overall case for investment is the high mechanical stability of the patented Stäubli transmission with its extended maintenance cycles and correspondingly low running costs.