We asked robotics veterans for one piece of advice to share with food and beverage packagers. Here are their insights.
the logistics and timing in packaging is very important, especially when food
or beverage products are involved. In
these operations, there are several stages of manufacturing e.g., raw food or
beverage preparation, wrapping or bottling, and then enclosing them in boxes or
cartons. There is subsequent cartoning or case packing and then possibly
palletizing. While this is taking place,
trucks often wait at docks to get loaded so that they can depart on time to
their distribution, routing or end destinations. There is no room for delay-and scrap or lost
production can almost never be recycled.
With this backdrop, it is important to integrate the timing and cycle
times of robotic manufacture, through simulation or testing, with the timing of
the overall food production process, replete with downtime, pause, and
Shafi, president,Advenovation (www.advenovation.com)
It is very important to the system integration that
all of the individual machines are supplied by one manufacturer and are
connected together with a shared, standard, electrical and mechanical component
platform, shared software programs, all integrated and programmed with
connecting conveyor system where one supplier (not several) takes
responsibility for the supply of the machinery, installation, integration,
commissioning, training and achievement of performance target.
-Nick Bishop, VP sales
and marketing, Bradman
the real return-on-investment, select the right integrator, spend time on
understanding normal system behavior as well as response to abnormal conditions
(exceptions) and build ownership among your employees.
-Dick Motley, senior account manager, North
America distribution,FANUC Robotics(www.fanucrobotics.com)
is a misconception about the versatility of a robotic arm. A robotic arm in of
itself is a uniquely versatile piece of technology, but the arm itself does not
represent the solution to any specific requirement. What you need is a
robotic-based solution, which requires surrounding that arm with the right
value add to be successful. An example of this is End of Arm Tooling (EoAT).
This portion of the solution is more often than not designed and built
specifically to handle the customer’s product(s). Its versatility lies in the
application for which it was designed. This means that while the robot at the
heart of an engineered solution could be redeployed into an entirely different
field, it would happen at the cost of all or most of the supporting equipment
from the previous.
Wohlrab, manager of Robotic Integration,Intelligrated(www.intelligrated.com)
robots and automation will perform the tasks they are built for, like anything
else, be sure to train your employees on the proper programming and maintenance
techniques for your investment. By understanding your equipment's proper
operation, you will be able to optimize the built in flexibility of the system
and make it last for many years after it has been paid for equating to the
potential for potential positive cash flow on your investment.
Elkins, senior general manager,Motoman(www.motoman.com)
We always suggest using simulation tools. They help
customers to visualize the system, to confirm the technical features and
consequently to get a solution that is perfectly adapted to their needs.
Marceau, product director,Premier
Tech, Industrial Equipment Group - Americas (www.premiertech.com)
The growth in product SKUs has placed
a huge strain on supply chains. Ten years ago, an average beverage distribution
company might have handled 100 SKUs. Today it can be more than 1,000. RMT
Robotics’ solutions are directly affected by the packaging size and type of
these SKUs. As packaging continues to diversify and the number of packaging
types and sizes continues to grow, consumer packaged goods manufacturers should
identify customized end effectors that can handle any type of packaging style
with ease and partner with experienced material handling robotic system integrators
like RMT Robotics.
Additionally, migrating from a
typical rack-based warehouse to a gantry robot-based system can help users keep
pace with SKU proliferation and demand. It can also reduce the footprint of the
material handling system, liberating space for stacking and pallet building.
Robots don’t need the aisle space, ambient temperature controls or even a break
Rickard, distribution systems manager,RMT Robotics
In selecting a robotic solution, be sure to include
the cost of ownership in the long term. Compare the cost of operating an
automated system versus labor costs over the 20+ years that the typical
automation system should easily function. Typically the automated system
operating costs are in the one dollar per hour range. Compare this with the
cost of your current packaging system whether it is a manual operation or not.
Bob Rochelle, food and packaging industry specialist,Stäubli Corp. (www.staublirobotics.com)
that some system integrators will attempt to convince the customer that it is
better to change their process to accommodate the integrators hardware, rather
than work to build a solution that best suits the packager’s needs.
David Peters, CEO,Universal
Robotics, Inc. (www.universalrobotics.com)