September 18, 2021

Robot production line for soybean milk packaging

The special customized robot pallet workstation configured at the end of the production line uses a dedicated arm to process the products output from three types of aseptic soymilk packaging lines, which is easy to operate and has a small footprint.

Through internal mergers and acquisitions, SunOpta focuses on its own product development. The company is principally engaged in food processing. Its business areas include cereals and soy products, fruit packaging products and other distribution and distribution products. In January 2005, the company added a 45,000-square-foot warehouse at the Alexander Aseptic Packaging Plant in Minnesota to bring together warehouses previously scattered in five regions. Sterile packaging of soymilk for a variety of customers, but also for their own brand of 1 liter Slimliter and 1/2 gallon paper / film rectangular packaging products, the production speed was 500 and 625 boxes / minute. The finished product is packed into corrugated boxes in three different configurations. Each shipping box can hold 6 or 12 bags of Slimliter products or 8 1/2 gallons of packaged products. SunOpta needs to package 130 types of soymilk products, divided into several different varieties and flavors, and distribute them under 11 brands throughout the United States. To develop more business, more plant space and more automated packaging equipment are needed. Not long ago, the company has also been operating in three shifts, eight hours per shift, and six days per week. In order to better meet customer demand for various products of the company, recently, the company began operating seven days a week, three shifts a day, 8 hours per shift. Therefore, in the past period of time, the company’s production capacity has increased fourfold. As part of the company's expansion, and in order to further consolidate the company’s position as a major innovator of soy products, the company decided to use fully automated robotic equipment to upgrade and renovate its pallet work, which will help improve work efficiency. After evaluating three or four different equipment suppliers, SunOpta chose a specially customized robot system from Brenton Engineering. This system can increase the flexibility of the production line, prevent personal injury, can provide tight, safe and tidy pallet loading, and can reduce the labor demand to a minimum. According to the new pallet loading process, only one operator can be used.

The robot tray system eliminated the labor-intensive operation process. The pallet loading originally required nine people and three shifts per day, making it very difficult to dispatch. In particular, as the company's business volume continues to grow, scheduling will become more difficult. Therefore, in order to keep pace with business growth, process automation is imperative. Brenton's robot pallet station is equipped with Fanuc's M. The 410iB 160 industrial tray robot and Lock'nPop's 4 binder coaters are used to secure the boxes. At the end of the tray process, Orion's FA-44 conveyor belt stretch film wrapping machine was used.

This system is compact in design, suitable for a limited number of workplaces, uses a vacuum suction cup to pick up the arm, there are 11 vacuum gripping areas, and 62 suction cups. The four-axis robot is a modular structure equipped with a servo drive and Fanuc's R-J3iB programmable controller. The Fanuc iPendante portable operator interface suspension control device maximizes performance for operator convenience.

In addition to the overall robot interface functionality, intuitive suspension controls provide help and diagnostics, and enhance the robot's process data, allowing operators to instantly access critical information. At the same time, it also weakened the shaking function of the conveyor belt. The robotic pallet loader can build any pallet pattern that handles the installation and sequencing of pallet loads, the insertion of backplanes, and the weight of various boxes, pickup speeds, and placement patterns. The standard robot memory configuration can store 50 to 100 unit load configurations in memory and can handle up to 999 unit loads.

If the standard built-in tray mode does not meet the application requirements, the PalletTool PC software automatically calculates several best modes. The robotic pallet loader has a payload capacity of 160 kilograms (about 352 pounds) and repeatability of 0.5 millimeters. It can pick up at the same time in the work station and place the shipping containers on three different pallets, and record them at the same time. The respective packaging mode. Such a function is achieved by unit load data stored in the robot's memory. SunOpta's operators can use suspension controls to modify pallet loading patterns or use PalletTool software to create their own patterns.

The system has a 360-degree rotation capability, a 10-foot retractable distance, and picks up the boxes from a 5 foot high pick and place platform, all in a 50 x 50 foot space. After adding the Slimliter cardboard packaging line, it can also process products from three production lines. The new pallet loading station offers more space for product handling and upstream packaging areas. The robotic system unit is located at one end of SunOpta's warehouse, and an empty pallet warehouse is arranged on the outer side of the warehouse. The warehouse pallet can be replenished at any time without affecting the normal operation of the pallet loading. On the other side, the packaging box is placed in order to allow the system to be turned on as planned. get on. There is a corrugated board store next to the empty tray dispenser in the system unit, which can store 250 sheets of floorboards. Workers need to replenish them every four hours, which has little effect on the production schedule.

Soybean milk filling and packaging process

During the production process, soymilk products are packaged in Tetra Brik cartons from Tetra Pak. The packaging process is carried out in a separate filling plant, using airtight molding, filling and sealing systems. Slimliter packaged products are produced, peroxide sterilized, filled and hermetically sealed on a set of 3 TBA/8 machines, while the A3/Flex aseptic system is the same for 1/2 gallon Tetra Brik carton Processing. Afterwards, the soy milk packaging box is transported to the collection conveyor belt and enters the lid and packing workshop through the wall opening. TetraPak's ReCap 3 capping machine placed a flip cover on the opening of the laminated film for each box. The clamshell design has a special guide groove that allows the milk to flow out of the tank when pouring the milk out of the tank, effectively controlling the dumping of the soy milk and preventing the product from remaining in the box. Then, the soy milk packaging box will be boxed on the Tetra 70 packing machine, packing 25 boxes per minute.

According to customer requirements, SunOpta can use a variety of weight and configuration of the winding packaging, most of the packaging by the Menasha company, on both sides of the packaging with the Zanasi device inkjet printed product, brand and production information on the relevant code. Then use a label machine from Paragon Label Systems to label the package. In addition, a Brenton bar code reader was equipped to identify the code on each package to confirm each specific detail and on which production line the product was produced and to direct the package to a tray loading facility. On the conveyor belt. When required, a fourth optional conveyor belt line can be installed to transport 6 or 12 boxes of soy milk cartons to the robot tray loader.

After the package enters the loading area of ​​the tray, the package drops into Ermanco's Roller Conveyor and into the two conveyors to the tray loading unit. SunOpta Inc. loads 150 boxes of 6 boxes in each tray, with 30 boxes on each floor, 5 floors in total, or 75 boxes in 12 boxes, 15 boxes in each floor, 5 floors in total, or 56 boxes loaded 1/2-gallon crates, 14 boxes on each floor, total 4 floors.

The infeed conveyor accumulates the containers in front of the robot and advances the inline containers into the picker. When processing 1/2 gallons of 8 boxes of soymilk packaging boxes, the first 3 boxes were sent to the accumulation area, laterally pushed onto the pick-up table, followed by another 3 boxes, and the last 3 boxes were then laterally pushed in to form 6 boxes. Group pick up configuration. At the same time, the empty pallet and floor dispensers are activated and empty pallets of 4048-inch wooden pallets and corrugated floors are supplied to the pallet loading station as required. As the empty pallet conveyor system transfers the pallets to the robotic workstation, after the sensors on the system are activated, the pallets stop in front of the floor dispensers. At this point, the dispenser places a base plate on the tray, and the empty tray conveyor sequentially delivers the tray to one of the three robot pick-up locations. As the boxes continue to accumulate, the catcher rotates the boxes so that they get the correct course and repeats until the three stations on the trunk are full. After that, the robot arm starts working, moves to the first picking station, puts a layer of boxes on the appropriate tray, and then returns to its original position. The viscose nozzle on the arm will spray the glue on the top of the box and start to place on the tray. Another box. This process is repeated until the tray on the tray is full and ready to be wrapped around. In the next step, the loaded tray is sent out of the robot cell by the conveyor belt and moved downstream to the stretch-wrapping machine. The robot and the stretch-wrapping machine send a communication signal and send the trays to the wrapping machine in sequence. After the trays are completely packed, they receive a “license” label with product information, bar codes, and production. Date, expiration date and production information.

According to the company’s relevant sources, the productivity of the three packing lines reached 100%. The investment in pallet loading equipment can be recycled within three years. If demand continues to grow, they will add another set of the same system to the upstream part of the packaging line. The system is very reliable and can handle more than 3 million pounds of product per week. The labor cost for pallet loading is drastically reduced.

Source: Modern Packaging

Robot Palletizer is widely used in chemical , beverage, food, beer, plastic, air conditioner industry etc.

Automatically stack the carton, bagged, canned,boxed and bottled products etc on the pallet. The simple structure, less components make it easy maintenanced and low maintenance cost. Robot palletizer takes small space and more flexible, accurate compared to the traditional palletizer.

All the contronl can be implemented on the touch screen of the control box, easy operation, reduce a lot of labor cost, more productive.

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