Endoline Robotics’ palletising solution helps flour miller meet rising retail demands

A new robotic palletising solution from Endoline Robotics is delivering significant productivity gains for UK-based Carr’s Flour Mills.

With unprecedented demand for flour during the Covid-19 pandemic, Carr’s doubled its production for one major supermarket chain, from 120 to 250 tonnes per week.

Installing an Endoline Robotics’ palletising system, powered by a Fanuc M710 robot, has enabled the flour miller to efficiently manage an output of 167,000 bags of flour per week, and provided greater flexibility to run the line 24/7.

Carr’s are flour millers with a 200-year heritage. Producing a range of fine flours at its three UK based mills, Carr’s supplies major retailers across the country, along with local Cumbrian stores close to its flagship site, Silloth Mill.

Silloth Mill was packing 1.5kg bags of self-raising and plain flour for a major supermarket chain. However, at the start of March 2020, with customer demand for flour rising, Carr’s immediately increased output by 50% to 167,000 bags of flour per week to meet the retailer’s requirements.

Doubling its manual packing staff from 8 to 16 to manage the rise in output, Carr’s swiftly pushed forward with plans to automate the process. Having met Endoline Robotics, the strategic partner of Fanuc in the UK, at the 2019 PPMA Show, Carr’s had placed the order for the palletising robot, just ahead of the pandemic.

“We had always planned to automate the line. However, faced with the unprecedented rise in demand we employed a further eight manual workers on a short-term basis, until Endoline were able to quickly install the robot.” Explains Ben Clark, Operations Director for Carr’s.

Implementing shift patterns to man the production line, the M710 palletising robot was needed to keep the operation running 24/7 without the additional staff, while increasing the quality of the stacked pallet.

The M710 system features a robotic arm with a specifically engineered, smart, self-cleaning vacuum gripper. Manoeuvring ten, 1.5kg flour bags from the bag packer at once, the robot gently collates them into the required palletising pattern.

At a speed of 74 bags per minute, the system gently palletises the flour to produce neat small Dusseldorf pallets, placing interlayers for increased pallet stability.

Designed to a very small footprint for seamless integration with the existing equipment, the robot features an infeed product collation system with two separate safety zones and two palletising positions for continuous operation. This eliminates frequent start-stopping of the upstream bag filling equipment. Once the first pallet is filled with the required amount the robot continues palletising onto the second pallet, and an operator replaces the first one, taking the filled pallet for stretch-wrapping.

The pallets are then delivered to the retailer and placed on the floor for customers to pick products directly from the pallet.

“We were constrained by the manual process. Endoline’s robotic solution has enabled us to redeploy the original eight workers to other, more skilled areas of the business.” Concludes Ben. “Quality and efficiency has improved, and we now have greater flexibility to increase productivity for our customers.”

 

The Fanuc M710 robot has enabled Carr’s meet increased demand and manage the palletising of 167,000 bags of flour per week

 

Endoline Robotics is the strategic, UK partner of Fanuc and is helping businesses automate to future proof their manufacturing facilities

Endoline Robotics launches flexible plug&play solution for animal feed packers

Endoline Robotics, working closely with strategic partner FANUC, has created a ‘plug & play’ robotic palletising solution, to meet the needs of the animal feed industry.

The ‘in a box’ robotic solution can be customised to directly meet specific demands and overcome the challenges faced by the industry.

Worth over £5.5 billion in the UK, the animal feed industry produces food products which are often large and bulky, and difficult to palletise by hand. Products of differing sizes, weights and shape are frequently run through the same line, making automation challenging.

Offering a fast Return on Investment, Endoline Robotics’ palletising solution is built to a small footprint – ideal for animal feed factory floors where space is often at a premium.

Powered by a FANUC robotic arm, the system is fitted with a bespoke mechanical gripper which can be programmed to pick up and accurately palletise bags of varying weights – at a speed of up to 12 bags per minute. The robust grippers have been manufactured to handle the wide range of packaging, including hessian and glossy materials, associated with the animal feed industry which can be inherently difficult to handle.

Filled bags arrive at the infeed of the palletising cell, which is pre-installed with a special mechanism for flattening the bags, making them easier to manoeuvre, while enhancing the stack ability of the pallet.

The robot picks the bags and placing them onto the pallet, under a pre-defined pattern which maximises load stability. The full pallet is then either removed by the operator, or auto discharged on a roller conveyor. Offering 24/7 operation, with a long-life expectancy, manufacturers can typically expect payback on their investment within 2 to 3 years.

“Through our partnership with FANUC, we have created a solution which directly meets the challenges faced by the animal feed industry, while also helping them increase productivity and drive growth.” Grigory Belosky, Sales Director for Endoline Robotics. “The system has not only been built to a compact, space saving footprint, it can also be easily moved between production lines to manage output, offering infinite flexibility.”

Similar system design can be used in various other industries packing products into bags: Agriculture, Building products, Chemicals and others.

Endoline Robotics also offers additional options for manufacturers including, auto-replenishment of empty pallets, interlayer sheet, palletising multiple pallets simultaneously and stretch wrapping.

Robotic palletising systems increase productivity for Amstel Brewery

As a result of installing three Fanuc industrial robots on the re-packing line within Heineken’s Amstel Brewery, productivity increased up to 21,000 bottles of beer per minute, with a significant reduction in production costs.

While the first robot automatically de-palletises a full plastic crate and positions it onto a crate conveyor system, the second robot automatically removes the bottles from the crates and positions them on the bottles infeed conveyor.

The bottles are then collated and packed into shrink wrapped multipacks. Then an integrated coding system is used to print expiry dates and batch codes on each multipack, while a print and apply system is used to label the packs, before the third robot palletises the re-packed bottles ready for the stretch wrapping systems and, finally, loading for distribution.

The empty crates are returned to the first robot and collated for automatic palletising ahead of being loaded onto lorries and returned to the bottling site.

The system is offering maximum productivity and also a great level of flexibility as it can easily be upgraded and modified to handle new products.

 

Palletising systems increase productivity for world’s largest dairy co-operative

Endoline Robotics holds the strategic partnership with FANUC UK to manage the installation of robotic palletising systems across the country.

These fully automatic, flexible systems have been sold globally, increasing the production and efficiency levels of manufacturing sites.

As a result of installing three FANUC M410 palletising robots within the world’s largest dairy co-operative, the systems have assisted in increasing productivity and reducing production costs.

As one of the world’s top five dairy companies, Friesland Campina exports its dairy-based beverages, infant nutrition, cheese, and desserts to over 100 countries worldwide.

The latest palletising system was installed on the company’s yogurt production line.

Testament to the flexible nature of the palletising systems powered by FANUC  robots, each tray comes in various sizes and configurations; 12x, 16x and 32x yogurts per tray.

To save space and avoid moving any existing equipment an overhead conveyor system with Intralox modular conveyor belts was installed to deliver the trays to the palletising cell.

A special mechanical gripper, fixed to the M410, is used to collate the products, and allows for the required palletising pattern. Increasing pallet stability, the palletising robots stack the trays into three layers, before a pick and place cycle intervenes to insert a cardboard interlayer.

The M410 robot forms part of a complete integrated system which includes third party automation equipment.

The finished pallets are automatically transferred to a Robopac Technoplat Stretch Wrapping system, and a pallet label is printed and applied using Markem Imaje 2200.

Designed to meet the latest CE safety regulations, protecting operators when working with an automated robotic palletising system, the system offers great flexibility and can be programmed for multiple types of products and palletising patterns. Remote access also comes as standard to help with quick diagnostics and service support.

2020 must be the year for robotic automation within UK manufacturing

UK manufacturers must tip the balance in favour of automation in 2020 to avoid falling behind international competition.

As the only G7 country with a robot density below the world’s average, with just 74 units per 10,000 workers, the UK is behind 14 other European countries in robotic adoption, highlighting the challenge that British manufacturing faces to compete with foreign productivity.

The UK led the First Industrial Revolution by embracing new technologies and the opportunities these created. However, unless British manufacturers significantly increases its adoption robotics and automation, and take full advantage of the technology available, foreign productivity will increase and the UK will be left trailing behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Last year, Endoline Automation, capitalising on its four decades of success in automating global food manufacturing facilities, launched Endoline Robotics in a bid to not only meet rising demand but to educate UK manufacturers on the many benefits robotic integration can yield.

At the end of last year, Endoline Robotics’ strategic partner, FANUC UK, held an Open House as a way of bringing key industry figures together and open a discussion on what needs to be done to move UK automation uptake forward.

While raising a number of interesting questions on the state of automation, the event highlighted the major challenges which still need to be overcome, and, in particular, the misconceptions which still surround robotics.

While most UK manufacturers understand the efficiencies gained from automation, the belief that it is expensive is still a barrier, particularly for SME’s and manufacturers on short term retailer contracts. However, when you consider that, as a country, we are around 30% less productive per hour than a German manufacturer, then the financial impact of not automating is clearly far greater.

Today, robotic systems can not only boost productivity and efficiency, they are tangible assets which can be moved or easily re-programmed to meet changing demands. Robotic palletising systems in particular, as they are outside high-care areas, are extremely flexible and can take the strain of monotonous and repetitive tasks off human workers, freeing up their time to complete more value-added tasks.

For many, return on investment (ROI) can be a deal breaker. When looking to achieve ROI inside a year, manufacturers shouldn’t be swayed by price alone. A well-engineered solution will provide low cost of ownership for many years at a fraction of the cost of manual labour.

Therefore the risk we face is not robots taking over the UK workplace, but the risk that, unless UK manufacturers begin embracing the benefits of automation, other countries will continue to seize the initiative and take advantage of new technologies, not least the growth and jobs they bring, while the Britain continues to trail behind.

Endoline Robotics solutions demonstrated at FANUC’s first Open House

Endoline Robotics were delighted to participate within FANUC’s first ever Manufacturing, Automation, and Digital Transformation Open House. The inaugural event brought the manufacturing industry together in a bid to change the perception of automation in the UK.Held at FANUC’s state-of-the-art UK headquarters in Coventry, over 600 manufacturing professionals from across the UK attended the event. Discussions held over the course of the three days responded to some of the industry’s most burgeoning questions on automation in UK manufacturing.

During the event, Endoline Robotics exhibited a fully automatic palletising system incorporating a 6-axis FANUC M-710iC series industrial robot. Director of Sales for ERL, Grigory Belosky, commented: “We were delighted to play such a pivotal role alongside FANUC. A sister company to Endoline Automation, ERL was launched in a direct bid to respond to growing calls from UK manufacturer’s for fully automated end of line systems with robotic solutions.”Recent figures suggest that UK automation is currently falling behind other leading manufacturing nations, which is having an impact on its ability to keep pace in terms of productivity. To illustrate the point: there are just 71 industrial robots per 10,000 workers in the UK, positioning it behind 14 other European countries. In contrast, Germany has 309 units, contributing to a production rate which is 30% higher per hour than the UKs.

“It is important that we clearly communicate and educate our customers on how robotic automation can improve productivity.” Continues Grigory. “Automation needs to evolve within the UK, and robotic solutions will play a vital role in this progression. For almost 40 years Endoline Automation has been a leading provider of case erecting and sealing automation. Now, following the launch of Endoline Robotics and through the strength of the FANUC brand, we are able to offer our customers robotic solutions to help drive up robotic adoption in the UK.”

Endoline Robotics Limited

In a bid to meet the ever growing demand for fully automated end of line systems, which increasingly require robotic solutions, Endoline Machinery has created a sister company called Endoline Robotics Limited (ERL) while also forging a strategic partnership with Fanuc.

The move is designed to reinforce Endoline’s reputation as a provider of case erecting and sealing automation and, through the strength of the Fanuc brand, the company will now manage the installation of robotic palletising systems under the umbrella of ERL.

“Our ability to engineer customised, fully automatic case erecting and sealing solutions underpins our reputation in the market,” says Andrew Yates, MD of ERL.

“Through our relationship with leading global food manufacturers we have become increasingly aware of the demand for robotic integration, particularly as companies move away from using manual labour.

COMMITTED TO UK BUSINESS

“The decision to partner with Fanuc and launch a sister company dedicated to robotic palletising equipment, illustrates a progressive period in our almost 40 year history,” he continues. “While we have developed the company and built up a solid export business, we are committed to the UK and creating solutions which directly meet our customers’ needs.”