A high-speed automated system has been installed to support the loading and unloading of pouches by a Louisiana-based materials handling solutions provider.
The fully-automated system uses robots to orient and form a pattern of unprocessed pouches, before using six-axis robots to pick and place pouches onto self-stacking trays.
The system can complete this process at a reported rate of up to 200 pouches per minute.
A secondary 6-axis robot is used to stack the trays on top of each other, and then the tray stack is conveyed out to an existing shuttle system that feeds the retorts.
After the pouches have been retorted, the shuttle transports the tray stacks to the unloading cell. Trays are de-stacked by a 6-axis robot and the full pouch pattern is removed from the tray by another six-axis robot and placed onto a mass take-away conveyor.
As the pouches are moved down the mass conveyor, one row of pouches is discharged at a time to form a single lane of pouches, which are then sent to the packaging line.
The six-axis robot flips empty trays over to ensure there aren’t any remaining pouches. The robot then re-stacks the empty trays so that complete tray stacks can be automatically returned to the load cell for use in loading the next batch of unprocessed pouches.
“A world-leading contract packing operation struggled with manual loading and unloading of pouches for more than a year,” said David Cohen, director of software engineering, Allpax.
“The operation experienced excessive damage to pouches and trays, as well as not meeting output requirements. The Allpax automated pouch handling system solved these issues.”
Full automation maximises output while reducing headcount in the retort room, according to Allpax.
The solution is also scalable and customisable.