Packaging robots plug and play

Universal Robots expects to debut flexible, lightweight robot arms at Pack Expo. The Universal Robots handle packaging and palletizing in any company searching for user-friendly, affordable automation solutions. At Pack Expo, the Danish robot manufacturer will showcase how the robot arms use advanced force control to handle even the most fragile and delicate items.

09/23/2013


At Johnson & Johnson’s plant in Athens, Greece, a UR5 robot has significantly optimized the packaging process of shampoos and skincare products. The robot arm works round the clock, picking up three bottles simultaneously from the production line every 2.Universal Robots expects to debut flexible, lightweight robot arms at Pack Expo. The Universal Robots handle packaging and palletizing in any company searching for user-friendly, affordable automation solutions. At Pack Expo, the Danish robot manufacturer will showcase how the robot arms use advanced force control to handle even the most fragile and delicate items.

Universal Robots’ force control feature allows the robot to grip and handle objects of different dimensions and flexibility without crushing, using variable force.

Ed Mullen, national sales manager with Universal Robots USA Inc., explains how the force control feature is unique for this type of collaborative robot: “Though the robot is simple to operate and deploy, it comes with very advanced features that allow the end user to automate manual tasks previously not possible due to the exact amount of force exertion needed in the application,” he said.

”This makes the UR robots an optimal choice for companies looking for packaging and palletizing solutions for items that require very specific handling.”

At Johnson & Johnson’s plant in Athens, Greece, a UR5 robot has significantly optimized the packaging process of shampoos and skincare products. The robot arm works round the clock, picking up three bottles simultaneously from the production line every 2.5 seconds, orientates them, and places them in the packing machine. Manual handling processes 45 bottles per minute, the robot handles 70.

Various types and sizes of bottles are handled by the flexible robot that can quickly be reprogrammed for new tasks. Ypatidis Ioannis, sales manager with the robot integrator InnoPro Technologies, explains that any member of Johnson and Johnson staff can do the reprogramming as needed.

“By using the touch screen tablet or by simply grabbing the robot arm showing it the desired path of movement, any employee can quickly reprogram the robot,” he said.

“This has saved Johnson & Johnson the cost of hiring external programmers and created considerable excitement among the staff. They like the robot so much they even gave it a name.”

In Iceland, two UR5 robots work in conjunction at the country’s biggest dairy, Mjólkursamsalan Akureyri; the first robot arm lifts four 250 gram packs of cream cheese from a conveyor belt and places them in a plastic tray. The tray is then passed to the other UR5 robot that stacks the trays on a pallet.

"UR robots are so simple to use, and not having to build a fence around them is a big plus. During the first year, we already saved three human years of monotonous work, thanks to our two UR5s," said Sigurður Runar Friðjónsson, director for the Akureyri dairy, subsidiary of Mjólkursamsalan Reykjavik.

The collaborative robots’ innovative force- sensing technology enables the robot to automatically stop operating if it comes into contact with an employee. Of almost 2,000 Universal Robots sold worldwide, 80% of these operate with no safety guard.

This is the case at Scandinavian Tobacco Co., the world’s largest factory for pipe tobacco production, where a UR5 robot now works directly alongside employees handling the lids for tobacco tins in a setup where tobacco is packed.

“The robot spares our employees from having to make back-breaking repeated movements. The setup has freed 1 or 2 people that previously performed the tasks by hand. They now carry out other tasks at the factory, which means we don’t have to spend as much on temporary employees,” explains Henning Kristensen, a line manager at Scandinavian Tobacco Group.

There was no room to screen off the robot in the setup at the factory.

“We ended up choosing Universal Robots because their robots are the only ones approved for operation without safety guarding. This has simplified the setup and costs significantly,” says Henning Kristensen.

Universal Robots, a Danish manufacturer of lightweight industrial robots, provided its first UR robot in 2009, and now has more than 100 partners in more than 40 countries. Universal Robots is a ”first mover” within a new segment for user-friendly, collaborative robots enabling automation not just in large enterprises but also in small and medium size companies that thought employing a robot would be too costly and complex.

- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, and Plant Engineering, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com.

www.universal-robots.com 



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Bring focus to PLC programming: 5 things to avoid in putting your system together; Managing the DCS upgrade; PLM upgrade: a step-by-step approach
Balancing the bagging triangle; PID tuning improves process efficiency; Standardizing control room HMIs
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.