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How is Automation and Manufacturing Influencing the Food Industry?

Kevin Lobo, FB Tech Review | Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Many studies in the food industry highlight how innovations can improve automation, manufacturing, and packaging.

FREMONT, CA: The advancements in the automation industry affect other industrial processes. This includes the food industry, which requires the same technological innovations with enhanced folding, sealing, boxing, taping, picking, and placing the operations. Here is one case study on how can robotics and new materials improve the food packaging process.

Saving space and costs with robotics

A Finland-based company Orfer Oy has recently started its North American office. The company manufactures robotic material-handling systems for a wide range of industries. For a new design of a completely automated packing machine targeted to the food and packaging industries, Orfer required a robot that provided fast and accurate handling, and that could seamlessly integrate with a vision system to track and pick the parts from a moving conveyor.

Orfer’s new system is the ORFER BoxCellPlus that widens on the popular BoxCell packing cell with the power to open flattened boxes, fold the flaps, and seal the base with tape and then fill the box with the products. Orfer’s existing BoxCell system utilizes a Toshiba Machine TH650A SCARA robot from TM Robotics for automating the process that quickly packs the products into plastic or cardboard boxes. 

Flexibility is Key

Orfer opted to ceiling-mount the SCARA robot so that it can be placed above the conveyor instead of using the standard floor mounting to the side. This helped the company reduce the overall size of the BoxCellPlus while increasing the robot’s power to access the products coming down the moving conveyor and place them in the box. The smaller robot also helped to make the system more cost-effective.

The SCARA robot’s ability to put the parts accurately within 0.01 millimeters was improved with an extended Z shaft of 400 millimeters that allows the parts to be placed more in-depth into the box. This accuracy and depth help prevent product damage during the packing and provide continuous, high-quality output for Orfer customers.

Because of the modular structure and an adjustable control system, the BoxCellPlus can be easily integrated into the factory or the warehouse management systems. As part of an automated packing system, the BoxCellPlus can be fed from conveyors from a weight-checker, labeling machine, or a vacuum packer. The robot also interfaces with a leading vision system that can be used for inspection and send coordinate data to the robot to pick the parts from a moving conveyor.

Smaller Size, Better Output

Orfer can pass along the Toshiba Machine robot's advantages in its new BoxCellPlus system, including faster, smaller size, more accurate processing, and lower cost.

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