Flexibility makes packaging machines for milk product future-proof.

As a producer of private label products, Promelca wanted to invest in strong and full automation, and to be sure at the same time that it would continue to be profitable when the preferences and requirements of customers change. Avercon developed an extremely flexible packaging machine to meet this need.

Promelca produces milk powder that is packaged in bags and was looking for a machine to package these bags after production outside of the hygienic zone. The challenge was that the bags could change in relation to dimensions and print. The dimensions of the boxes are not defined either.

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The packaging machine that Avercon developed uses 4 hexapod robots to pick up the bags from two parallel conveyor belts and put them in boxes. A vision system scans the products on the conveyor to determine where the delta pickers must grab the bags. The conveyance of the boxes is controlled based on the speed at which bags are supplied from production.

This creates a system that is very flexible and can process a large product variation. The parameters for the vision system that must take the colour and print on the bags into account to ensure they can be recognised unequivocally are managed in a recipe system. The other aspects of the automation adjust themselves based on what the cameras observe on the conveyor belts.
This flexibility is also included in the palletising where a hybrid solution is created with a buffer system of a layer palletiser in combination with a robot that can pick up rows from this buffer to thus deposit them on a pallet. This entire system creates a flexible solution that can process several patterns at a speed that is higher than that of pure robot palletising.

Avercon also built a conveyor belt for this application that is up in the air to prevent obstructions where a first spiral conveyor takes the boxes up from the packaging machine and a second one takes the boxes down again for palletising.

To maximise productivity, two pallets are formed on top of each other during this palletising so that they can be taken together to the warehouse with one forklift truck movement.

The entire system at Promelca has been optimised for a high throughput, which is also why committed investment into automation took place. By making the right choices, we managed to still retain a high-level of flexibility thanks to automation. This guarantees the profitability of the investment in the long term.

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