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Integrated System Provides Buffering With Pick-and-Place Robots

Rotzinger Group leveraged its expertise in pick-and-place delta robots, buffering, and conveying to give confectionery and baking operations flexibility in a small footprint.

According to a recent report from PMMI, 60% of CPGs highlight a lack of available labor as a significant factor driving interest in automated solutions. In fact, nearly 70% of U.S. CPGs still rely on highly manual or semi-automated production processes.

To help overcome these workforce challenges, along with space constraints, Rotzinger Group has developed the Robot with an Integrated Buffer to pick and place both unpacked and packed production into various packaging formats. The system leverages Rotzinger’s expertise in pick-and-place delta robots, buffering, and conveying to give confectionery and baking operations flexibility in a small footprint. It combines all these functions into a single cell, enabling greater efficiency, productivity, and cost-effectiveness.

“The challenge today—especially in North America but also all over the world—is always layout footprint at the customer sight in the plant. They are always looking for the smallest footprint possible,” says Nicolas Garcia, vice president and general manager of Rotzinger Group, North America. “Also, of course, to increase the efficiency of the line, especially after COVID due to all the shortage in labor.”

The use of a single controller and a unified setup philosophy enables hassle-free maintenance and straightforward operation, eliminating the need for complex programming or extensive training. The Robot with an Integrated Buffer can be operated by a sole operator, offering simple changeovers facilitated by recipe selection, which automatically adjusts the necessary parameters with just a few clicks.

“For the customer, it’s one interface, the same way of managing the parameters, the same way of teaching the robot recipes,” Garcia says. “It’s really like having one machine in front of him and not a couple of modules talking together.” This combines a lot of know-how under the hood, he adds, commenting on the group’s capabilities in integrating the software and mechanics.

Equipped with vision-guided high-speed robots, this innovative machine accurately identifies incoming products on the conveyor belt and precisely places them in the feeding process. A notable feature of this system is its buffering capability. If there’s a halt in the output flow, the machinery can buffer products on the lower level for durations ranging from 2 minutes to potentially 20 minutes. When the output machine resumes its operation, the robot’s speed can be increased by about 20% to deplete and empty the buffer. This ensures a continuous flow of production without any significant interruptions. The integrated buffering capabilities increase line efficiency and also eliminate the need for additional linking conveyors, resulting in cost savings and optimized layout.

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