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Automation can work in primary food packaging applications

Automation can work in primary food packaging applications

News 13.04.2023

At Interpack 2023 in Düsseldorf (4-10 May), FANUC will be demonstrating precisely how reliable and easy it is to implement automation solutions for the packaging industry. The world's leading robot manufacturer will be presenting numerous pick & place, sorting, packaging and palletising use cases. Visitors will be able to see the company's space-saving and easy-to-operate collaborative robots (cobots) in live action, alongside delta and SCARA robots, compact and versatile robots for warehousing, and high-performance vision systems.

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The trend of frequently changing products and batch sizes has long-since arrived in all areas of the packaging industry. Flexible systems that quickly accommodate last-minute order revisions with minimal changeover times are therefore in demand. "With our delta robots and 3D vision system, a wide variety of products can be packaged on a single line,” says Michael Schüpbach, Sales Coordinator Food Market at FANUC Europe. “Furthermore, when using robots with food-grade lubricants, automation can work in primary food packaging applications." The consistently high quality and sterility of the process are further benefits of robotics. These advantages also apply to the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, where the quality requirements for packaging are particularly high. Here, clean-room robots such as FANUC's LR Mate 200iD clean-room series or the SCARA SR-12iA robot with clean-room class 5 rating, offer good solutions.

"Robots help to avoid manufacturing errors and ensure high quality without exception," states Christoph Bihr, Sales Coordinator Life Sciences at FANUC Europe, who goes on to say that, aside from packaging applications, medical device manufacturers can also leverage the reliability of robots in assembly operations. As a further advantage for the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, robots protect employees from contact with potentially hazardous substances while reducing the risk of product contamination.

FANUC has many successful practical examples, after all the company is well-established in many industries and has more than 100 robot models in its range. At Interpack 2023, FANUC will present, among other things, a picker cell featuring a food-grade gripper from Soft Robotics. Here, the company’s stainless steel delta robot DR-3iB/6 STAINLESS will continuously pick up cheese slices from a running conveyor belt and stack them on top of each other, with a FANUC 3D vision sensor and iRPickTool software ensuring optimal part detection. An SR-12iA (IP 65) SCARA robot will then pick up the cheese stack ready for further processing. In another example application, FANUC will show its new, fully enclosed LR-10iA/10 robot in a sorting application for the logistics sector, supported by iRVision software. The robot, with a payload of 10 kg, is not only light and compact, but also offers a large working area and high resistance to dust and water. A further ideal application for this robot is the loading and unloading of machine tools.

In end-of-line packaging, cobots are likely to play an important role in the future. FANUC will present no less than five models of its CRX lightweight cobot series with payloads between 5 and 25 kg. The latest and strongest model, the CRX-25iA, can move 25 kg with a reach of 1889 mm. Interpack visitors will see the CRX palletising and de-palletising boxes. The CRX-10iA and CRX-10iA/L models, each with a payload of 10 kg and a reach of 1294 mm and 1418 mm respectively, are also available in a food-grade version.

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