Baking & Snack - June 2022 - 92

ROBOTICS IN PACKAGING
" There are pros and cons to many typical styles of
EOATs: vacuum, needle or gripper, " he said. " While
some may be the most efficient method of picking and
placing at high speeds, they may not be ideal for maintaining
a product's shape or quality. Through different
testing methods, we can prove these concepts out and
settle on the best EOAT for the application. "
Aaron Donlon, product manager, Epson Robots,
said 3D printing allows tooling to be customized to fit a
product's needs. He added more advanced materials enable
EOATs to flex and conform around irregularities in
handling packaged food products.
WITH ROBOTICS, BAKERIES NEED
STRICT PROCESSING CONTROLS
TO ENSURE THE CONSISTENCY OF
MUFFINS OR OTHER PRODUCTS
SO THEY FIT INTO PACKAGES.
" Designing active tooling is an effective way to build different
pack patterns on a production line, " he said. " Active
tooling can enable the grippers to change the pattern or
vacuum tooling that is zoned off is another way to create
different patterns. Both are used in conjunction with the
robot motion to design a variety of pack patterns. "
Felix Pang, sales application specialist, ABI Ltd., suggested
soft grippers are the most flexible choice for product
handling since they can pick up the widest range of
items. The silicone fingers mimic the human hand, and
the lightweight EOAT works well with the delta robot -
a type of parallel robot that consists of three arms connected
to universal joints at the base - as a faster option.
" From a programming perspective, we can dictate
how much the fingers open or close and the pressure of
the hold, " Mr. Pang said. " This capability makes handling
92 Baking & Snack June 2022 / www.bakingbusiness.com
Improved end effectors can lift and place groups of packaged
bagels with greater speed and accuracy than by clunkier robotics
just a few years ago.
ABI Ltd.
product of different sizes easier. Using machine learning,
we can teach our robotic systems to handle a variety of
products, including loaves, buns, pretzels and cakes. "
Robotic versatility has improved over the past few
years. Mr. Hoskins said it sometimes means using one
tool for several different sizes and varieties of products.
" However, we never want to sacrifice overall system
performance only to allow for more flexibility, " he added.
" In these instances, we will use the auto tool change
feature of our systems that allows our customers to
change over to an EOAT with the push of a button. This
brings a tremendous amount of flexibility to the system
but optimizes the performance of the system across a
wider variety of products. "
Fast-moving fragile products
Product type isn't the only complication. With robotics,
bakeries need strict processing controls to ensure
product consistency so they fit into packages. Just a
little bit of variation can make for a long day on a highspeed
system.
" If you are placing cookies into a tray by hand, you
can squeeze them in there if they're slightly out of spec, "
Mr. Watson explained. " If they're not in spec with a robot,
you may end up damaging the products or creating
downtime or other inefficiencies in the line. People can
figure out how to get products into packaging. Robots
can't. That was one of the early lessons we had from
working with robotics. "
Some items are just easier for robotics to package.
" With many snack bars, the end effector can be as
simple as a standard set of bellowed suction cups linked
with a standard filtering system as snack bars typically
don't generate a lot of crumbs and are typically not very
porous, " Mr. Buckley pointed out. " However, other items
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Baking & Snack -june 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baking & Snack -june 2022

Baking & Snack -june 2022 - Intro
Baking & Snack -june 2022 - 1
Baking & Snack -june 2022 - 2
Baking & Snack -june 2022 - 3
Baking & Snack -june 2022 - 4
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