Automated packaging in the food industry

The packaging industry has experienced constant growth in recent decades, driven by the demand for efficient and attractive solutions for product packaging. In this context, robotic automation has emerged as a key factor to improve efficiency, quality and precision in packaging processes.

Robots have proven to be versatile and adaptable tools that can perform tasks from assembly and labeling to final packaging. They have become indispensable in the packaging industry due to their ability to perform repetitive and precise tasks with high speed and quality. They are separating the worker who finished the days very tired, they allow to reduce costs and increase productivity.

Here we can see a success story of a KUKA robot specialized in packing sandwiches in plastic bags:

The food industry, in recent years and the pandemic, has suffered from a shortage of personnel specialized in assembly line processes. Therefore, a great need has been generated to simplify and automate some processes, such as packaging.

In this case, the possibility of automating the packaging of sandwiches through a robotic application was detected. Active8 employees built a 3D printed installation representing the automated scenario. In this way, any important requirements, for example regarding speed and hygiene, could be checked.

To continue with the application, they opted for two KR AGILUS HM robots from KUKA, due to their characteristics; Robust construction, they offer maximum repeatability and continuous precision.

Both KR AGILUS HMs were equipped with end-of-arm rotating tools made of food-grade stainless steel to meet the strict hygienic standards in the food packaging industry.

Packaging automatizado en la industria alimentaria

This is how the app works:

Seasoned square breads by people are transported on a production line. Before reaching the two KR AGILUS HMs, the sandwiches are cut using ultrasonics. Image sensors integrated in the installation control the quality. If one of the sandwiches fails this quality control, it is removed. The triangular sandwiches are transported via the chain to the gripper arms of the KR AGILUS HM. They take the seasoned buns, turn them 180 degrees and place them one by one in brown paper bags. Ready for a snack.

Thanks to this new application, productivity can be significantly increased. The two KR AGILUS HM can pack between 50 and 60 sandwiches per minute. “Thanks to the permanent lubrication of its gears, the KR AGILUS HM does not need lubricant changes and requires minimal maintenance effort,” explains Michael Payne of KUKA. In a very short time, the investment becomes profitable for the company: Thanks to stable productivity, lower costs and high product quality, a return on investment can be obtained after approx. 16 months, depending on the size of the company and the effectiveness. Productivity can be further increased by adding other machines and production and packaging facilities.

Packaging automatizado en la industria alimentaria

Currently, Active8 Robots’ first robot-based sandwich packing facility is still awaiting its first application in an industrial bakery. To further assist customers in the production and packaging of sandwiches, the first part of the process, ie the seasoning and folding of the sandwiches, could also be automated in the future.

The KR DELTA could take over this task, as it has been designed for direct contact with food and can be integrated into the existing installation. Active8 Robots sees great potential for applications in similar facilities with food handling robots, such as packaging robots, which can hygienically, quickly and economically pack fruits, bakery products or other foods.

In summary, the success story of sandwiches in the implementation of robots in packaging demonstrates how technology can be used effectively to optimize processes, improving efficiency and the quality of customer service.

News source:

Author: Sebastian Schuster

Position: Marketing & Communications Director

Company: KUKA AG

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