Baking & Snack - August 2018 - 120
Mechanical automation means the product needs
to either be pushed, pulled or accumulated by means
of belts and conveyors that the product may not tolerate. Although this option is often less expensive,
it may not meet the requirements of the product. "If
producers have a system that doesn't meet that need
or the configuration of product on the belt doesn't
suit the wrapper, then we'll steer them toward robotics," Mr. Gunnell said.
The biggest key to success is communication up and
down the line. Mr. Gunnell suggested bakers should
let packaging suppliers know what is happening to the
package downstream. If robots are packaging a halfdozen miniature products into a carton, Formost Fuji
flowwrappers can count products and insert a gap using a shift mechanism to feed them down the line six
at a time. "By doing that, it's feeding to the robot what
it needs for that operation," he said. "It really comes
down to communication between all the people on the
line and knowing what the downstream or upstream
system might do."
Maintenance and sanitation
The level of expertise to support dealing with robotics is
very different than other forms of automation. A technician often needs to approach a robot with a laptop computer instead of a wrench or screwdriver. Bakers need to
train their staff to accommodate the robots and ensure
that their supplier supports their needs if an issue arises.
Mr. Kehrli said a company may not be ready for robotics if the bakery is not prepared to hire a technician
that can maintain such a system. "While service is there
to help them, the reality is there needs to be someone
there to help you get through the middle of the night if
there is a problem," he explained.
Cavanna Packaging offers scanning and support systems to help technicians troubleshoot any problems.
The company recently began a system using smartphone technology so offsite technicians can see what
bakers are looking at through a phone's camera. "It's
kind of like 'FaceTime on steroids' for the industry,"
Mr. Kehrli said.
Additionally, many robots now come equipped with
software that can help the monitoring and troubleshooting processes. For example, new software allows operators to prepare production processes offline and simulate runs, helping to reduce setup time for new batches
by spotting errors before actual production starts.
Shuttleworth's robot-ready solutions integrate with
simulation software iRPickPRO that allows it to pre-engineer systems to validate rates and determine optimization levels. For example, a multiple-robot picking system
relies on dynamic load balancing equations that keep the
production line in operation if an issue arises with one
picker. "Customers are requiring flexibility and quick
Robots are able to lightly handle miniature baked goods and snacks, both in and
out of a package, consistently.
Bosch Packaging Technology
120 Baking & Snack August 2018 / www.bakingandsnack.com