There are countless benefits to robotics in packaging but one hang-up has always been the robotic teach pendent. This pendent is utilized to program and maneuver the robot including managing faults and jogging the machine. For someone who is well versed in robotics, a teach pendent is not an issue. However, once the machine is installed and running in a facility, operators need to have user friendly access to the machine. That is where robotic HMI interfacing comes into play. We are going to look at three benefits for integrating the robot with the HMI.[Read more…] about Benefits of Robotic HMI Interfacing
Robotic Case Packing
As a co-packer, you have two customers, the brand and their store front. While they dictate your business, you must also determine how to be the most efficient and cost effective so that you can profit. Brenton experiences these challenges with our co-pack customers. Our partnership begins at the design phase where we work together to develop the most flexible solution for their current and future needs.[Read more…] about Case Packing with Co-Packers
Determining which solution is best for your case packing application can be a daunting task to differentiate for any manufacturer, especially when you have not been equipped with knowledge to differentiate the two. That is where we come in. This blog will walk you through the key areas to consider when deciding between traditional, hard automation versus robotic.
The speed at which your case packer will run is determined by a handful of factors: product size, case style, upstream and downstream equipment, and line efficiency are a few. Of these factors, product size and case style are the two that directly impact whether you elect a robotic or traditional style case packer.
Traditional case packers have speeds that are unmatched when packing a dedicated range of products in side load or wraparound cases. Reaching speeds upwards of 85 cases per minute, this equipment is designed for consistency which allows high cycle times to be met.
Robotic case packers can also run at high speeds, however, you are likely packing small, lightweight items. Robots are ideal for packing top load cases and products of varying shapes and sizes.
Are you going to be running multiple products with varying sizes and pack patterns on a single line? If the answer is yes, then a robotic solution is going to be your best bet. Robotic solutions produce more flexibility than traditional case packers primarily due to tooling. Robots have faster change over speeds because the tooling can be made to handle multiple products. The robots can also use automatic tooling changeover to drop one end of arm tool (EOAT) and pick up another, if required, for running multiple products.
Additionally, manufacturers are determining product lifespan is not as long as it once was. Traditional case packers are engineered to run a specific product, if this product changes a few years down the road you are looking at a retrofit solution or an entirely new piece of equipment. On the other hand, robots are multipurpose assets that can be deployed into other areas of your plant or simply updated with a change to the EOAT. The flexibility of robotics is also manifested through the addition of SKUs. In many cases, additional SKUs can be added to the robotic program with little difficulty.
Maintenance also plays a role in the flexibility of a case packer. Due to fewer components on a robot, they tend to last longer. This results in less down time for repairs and ultimately, longer life span.
When it is all said and done, the answer to this question lies in your product. What are you packing? Size, shape, case style, weight, and speed. When you can clearly determine the answers to those questions you can progress forward, with confidence, knowing the solution you select will meet your needs and provide long term ROI.
By Stephen Gandy, Applications Engineer, Brenton Engineering, a member of the ProMach family of brands
The rule of thumb when deciding between robotic or conventional case packers has been:
- Use a robot when top loading regular slotted cases (RSC) at a rate of 30 to 40 cases per minute.
- For higher speeds, use a high-speed conventional sideload case packer
The rule is no longer as true today because robots now cost less and are easier to use, creating more options for packagers. Here are three suggestions for gaining advantages from the new economic realities of robots in case packing.
1) Consider adding multiple robots to increase throughput
It is now economically feasible to have two, three, four, or more robots in a case packing application where before there was only one. With each additional robot comes higher throughput. Multiple robots can have a smaller footprint than a conventional sideload case packer. When adding robots, size the units correctly. Smaller robots cost less and if the payload is low, there is no reason to invest in larger units. This helps to make multiple robot systems more cost effective.
2) Utilize both Delta and multi-axis robots for product orientation benefits
If product orientation and pack pattern would slow down a multi-axis unit, ask the supplier about installing a Delta robot paired with a multi-axis arm unit in an integrated system. The Delta robot creates the pattern and a multi-axis arm unit loads the case. This dual solution rapidly changes pack patterns, increasing flexibility.
3) Utilize automatic tool changeover when greater flexibility is required
Automatic tool changeover decreases downtime, lowers labor costs, and makes the line more flexible in terms of packing a wide range of products. Be sure to discuss with the OEM the potential benefits of adding automatic tool changing capabilities.
Additional thoughts on robotic case packing
The investment in a robot doesn’t end when the line is decommissioned as it would with a conventional sideload case packer. Operations personnel simply move units to a new area of the plant. Robots require less maintenance than conventional case packers as well.
Work with an end of line OEM that offers both robotic and conventional case packers. These suppliers will recommend the best solution – robotic or conventional – and not push one to the exclusion of the other. Explore with the OEM the feasibility of multiple robotic systems, mixed systems, and automatic tool changeover. Investigate the impact these strategies
Case Packer Effectiveness
What does it mean for a piece of machinery to be effective? Effectiveness is the comparison of intended production rates to actual production rates – a time based evaluation. This is a simple calculation that produces a simple response; which raises the question if my effectiveness ratio is not 100% where do I start making improvements?
That is where OEE comes into play. OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) provides an all-encompassing picture of machinery performance and directs you to determining where your losses are coming from. When calculating OEE you receive an objective set of data which will lead your operations team down the path to overall improved production. We are going to take a look the three components of OEE in light of case packing and suggestions for improving machine effectiveness.
Availability is the time that a machine is up and running. This ratio compares ideal run time to actual run time.
Your facility operates in 8-hour shifts. What we don’t know is how many of those 8 hours does the machine actually run. During a shift, employees receive 2-15-minute breaks and 1-30-minute lunch. There are 80 minutes of changeover and 60 minutes of downtime throughout the day. All in all, of the 480 shift minutes the case packer is only running 280 – that is a loss of 200 minutes. The availability ratio is 58.3%.
Performance the evaluation of throughput, if the number of cases per minute is meeting your ideal rate.
The case packer runs 35 cases per minute at 280 minutes of actual run time yielding 9,800 cases, this is demonstrating ideal performance. If the packer began running at a reduced speed, say 25 cases per minute, you have now reduced the performance of the machine to 71.4% or a loss of an additional 80 minutes.
The evaluation of quality stems from how many cases were constructed according to spec. Did you have to reject any cases because they were damaged, incorrect pattern or weight?
Based on performance you are packing 7,000 cases per shift but you have 250 that are completed out of spec yielding a total of 6,750. Your quality ratio is 96.4%.
The results are in and this case packer demonstrated an OEE of 40%. This ratio is achieved by comparing time not running (availability = 58.3%), time lost by running at a slower rate (performance = 71.4%) and time lost by producing unapproved cases (quality = 96.4%).
Brenton has proven that Strategic planning and prevention are the greatly help improve your OEE. The first way to improve machine availability is to reduce changeover time. Brenton takes this challenge head on with the implementation of tool-less changeover wherever possible, color coding the changeover parts, Siko Counters with hand cranks, and keyholing parts with a self-aligning Kipp handle. Full automation change over run through the HMI is also available. When running a robotic case packing application, this fully automatic changeover is demonstrated through robotic automatic tool changing. The robot is programed to release the end of arm tool (EOAT) onto a rack and pick up the next.
Downtime is another piece of the availability puzzle. Scheduling preventative maintenance and tracking downtime on your HMI are essential steps for the reduction of downtime. Brenton supports its equipment with a complete Aftermarket parts, service and retrofit team. Our parts team can help you keep common wear items on hand so you are ready for scheduled maintenance and unplanned repairs. Another aspect of preventative equipment care are machine audits. These audits include safety reviews, machine analysis, visual inspections and adjustments.
The next phase of improving OEE is performance. Improve the performance of your equipment by stabilizing the speed. Ensure that your conventional equipment is designed to a 10% overspeed rate so that you are never maxing it out. Robotic case packers should not be designed with more than 86% utilization without close engineering review. That 14% buffer provides support for the system. If you are looking for more speed, contact our Retrofit department. They have solutions available for Brenton and non-Brenton equipment to keep you running at the pace you require.
Speed is important up and down the line from your case packer. ProMach Performance Services surpasses the competition in line data, analysis, improvement, modeling and testing! If you are looking for performance this is your team.
Finally, there is quality. When your case packer is damaging cases, you are losing out on more than just time, material resources are being wasted as well. To ensure that our case packers are gentle on your corrugate, Brenton uses top squaring fingers and bottom squaring flights. These capture the case at the top and bottom BEFORE compression is applied to ensure sides and flaps are not over extended or bunched during sealing.
The closer you get your OEE to 100% the smoother your line will run, most facilities aim for 85% OEE. Take the time to evaluate your case packer’s availability, performance and quality; your bottom line will thank you!
For more information about Brenton case packers please visit www.BrentonEngineering.com.