RTS packs variety into a cost-saving solution

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 24 April 2007



(2007), "RTS packs variety into a cost-saving solution", Assembly Automation, Vol. 27 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/aa.2007.03327baf.005



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

RTS packs variety into a cost-saving solution

RTS packs variety into a cost-saving solution

RTS Flexible Systems, a leading provider of integrated robotic and automation systems for the food industry, has developed a creative solution for picking and packing of food products into variety packs.

The cost-saving solution promises under 2 years' return on investment – a typical outcome repeatable for a variety of applications, where confectionery, dairy or bakery products, for example, are packed into mixed trays (Figure 4). The system is also able to adapt quickly to cope with changes in pack configuration due to the introduction of new flavours or “limited edition” offers.

The solution was originally developed for a chocolate biscuit manufacturer. It used RTS' PixCellTM technology to combine the speed and flexibility of 120-cycle per minute, vision-guided robots with RTS VIPTM line balancing software and RTS-developed gripper designs.

Figure 4 A creative solution for picking and packing from RTS Flexible Systems

According to David Bradford, RTS Managing Director: “We were able to achieve significant cost savings through replacing a complex and repetitive manual operation to pack multiple product variants with an automated solution.”

“Our solution significantly increases throughput and reduces line down time. It has the additional advantage of improved quality control, and there are benefits for hygiene and personnel health too, because of the reduction in human intervention.”

The line layout configures several feed conveyors at right angles to the main conveyor. Each robot is positioned to pick one or two varieties from cases moving along the feed conveyor and place them correctly in a tray of mixed flavours moving along the main conveyor. The vision-guided software enables the robot to identify and orientate the product, as well as providing quality inspection of imperfect products.

RTS' proprietary line balancing software is key to the system, providing control over the infeed and outfeed of the products to fill the packs with optimum efficiency. The robots can pull products forward if more are needed to fill the variety trays. They can also stop the trays on the outfeed conveyor if products are still missing.

As one of the UK's food industry's leading automation integrators, RTS is regularly faced with the challenge of developing bespoke robotic grippers capable of handling a variety of food products. A diverse range of gripper designs have been developed in support of 150 systems supplied the past 20 years. Both proprietary designs products and bespoke solutions are available for picking food products.

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