On The Fly Tray Loading Technology Increases Efficiency

Vision Guided Robots Replace Traditional Collate and Load Systems

By Jerry Buckley at BluePrint Automation (BPA)

It takes more than speed to increase packing line efficiency. In fact, traditional racetrack collation often creates jam points that significantly slow down case and tray packing operations and create line downtime. The next generation of vision-guided robots solves this problem, and increase throughput with more reliable, flexible and versatile packing lines.

Vision guided robots streamline packing lines and eliminate the need to perfectly orient products entering a packer. In fact, they can sort, pick up and pack random, un-oriented products into various types of primary packaging systems and also pack into secondary packaging like cases, cartons, trays and shelf ready packages. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the latest automated packing solutions:

What’s the benefit of having a robotic packing system with vision?

Systems using 4-axis delta robots with integrated vision accept random and unoriented product from bulk and have built-in product inspection capabilities giving ultimate flexibility to processors, manufacturers and copackers.  3-D camera technology also greatly helps with product inspection adding additional benefits for the end user.

How are vision guided robots able to accept product from bulk?

Product spreader belts, vibratory product laning systems and gapping conveyors help separate bulk products for proper vision inspection. Robotic Loading Systems are then able to accept un-oriented bulk product to be picked and placed into a wrapper infeed, top-load carton, trays or cases.  This eliminates the need to perfectly orient product that is entering a packer. Vision technology also provides quality control measures to detect and reject improperly sized products, connected double wraps and other imperfections.

What applications are ideal for this technology?

Most consumer-packaged goods are ideal candidates for automation, and this technology is an effective way to pack bags or pouches or flow-wrapped products like nutrition bars, candy, baked goods such as snack cakes, ice cream bars or other frozen novelties. However, it is also ideal for handling primary, unwrapped, products from a freezer or cooling tunnel to place them into the infeed of a secondary packaging system.

Why is versatility an important consideration when selecting packing equipment, and are vision guided robots up for the challenge?

You want packaging equipment that can grow and change with your company, and accommodate new products, pack configurations or counts. Vision guided robots can handle various types of products and containers and integrate numerous packaging processes into a single packing line. Easily adaptable, they can also be programmed to pack virtually any product count or configuration or pack pattern. For example, vision guided robots can pick up unpackaged or individual packaged items and load them into containers, wrappers or into existing horizontal or vertical form fill seal equipment and support stacking and loading for variety packs in sacks or cases; dinner tray loading; and kit assembly. Change-over time is often accomplished within a few minutes with little or no change-parts needed. Thus, reducing line downtime.

How do vision guided robots improve end of line efficiency?

Efficiency is improved as there are no jam-points to stop the line and, due to vision product inspection, and bad products do not cause jams or line stoppages that would typically cause issues on other types of packaging systems.

The value of turnkey packaging solutions

End of line turnkey packaging solutions take total control of your packaging line(s) from the end of processing through palletizing.  Using a company such as BluePrint Automation for your end of line turnkey packaging system puts the design and execution in the hands of one supplier.  No need to call multiple suppliers.  From quotation through installation, you have one supplier executing the project through installation.

About the Author

Jerry Buckley is the South Central Sales Manager at BluePrint Automation (BPA). He has an extensive background in packaging machinery with extensive knowledge in vision guided robotic packaging systems. BluePrint Automation is a world leader in end of line packaging automation, with a diverse and innovative team of experts in consumer goods packaging who design, develop and manufacture packaging solutions for flexible and other tough-to-handle packages. For more information, visit www.blueprintautomation.com.

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