High-speed ABB FlexPicker robots equipped with specially developed
grippers are making sure that Peperami salamis are packaged at the highest
cycle rates at Unilever’s plant in Ansbach, Germany.
The robots are fitted with triple grippers which are able to pick up three randomly positioned salami snacks one after the other from a conveyor belt in a one step process, and place them individually in a rollstock machine.
The positioning and location data required comes from an upstream image processing system which is positioned to capture the information on the individual sausages and pass it on to a master computer.
Unilever commissioned ABB Robotics partner, robomotion GmbH from
Stuttgart, to plan and design the fully automated solution; and install
and commission the entire system at Unilever within 10 days. “This
high-speed technology is not only of interest in the foodstuffs sector, as
it can be used anywhere where small items have to be handled at high
speeds” says Andreas Wolf, a director of robomotion.
Unilever’s chief engineer, Carim Gad, concludes “With the new system,
we’re running the packaging machine at full capacity, giving us a
performance increase of up to 25 percent compared with manual loading. The ability to cover peak loads is of particular interest.
For example, in the run-up to the Football World Cup, special production shifts were operating at the weekend. This alone gave us a competitive edge, enabling us to deliver Peperamis to our customers on schedule”.
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