Packaging | 1 MINUTE READ

Collaborative Robots Help Automate Blow Molding Lines

Collaborative robot arm automates bottle/jar packing at half the cost of conventional automation.


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Proco Machinery Inc., supplier of automation systems for blow molding, is highlighting collaborative robot systems at NPE2018. Examples are the new collaborative robotic Half-Cube Palletizer system and the Robo Packer case packer. Both utilize six-axis UR “cobots” from Universal Robots (which has its own exhibit at the show). Both are said to cost 50% less than conventional automation.

Proco is running several continuous bottle packaging systems utilizing five UR cobots with “layer pack” tooling for wide-mouth containers and “single-row” tooling for 16-oz PET bottles.

The Half-Cube Palletizer employs a robotic arm, infeed conveyor, pallet-lift magazine, and slip-sheet/track pick-and-place magazine on a common sub-frame that is fitted with leveling pads and caster wheels. The only manual operation is placing the trays in the magazine. When palletizing is complete, an alarm sounds, and the operator pulls the pallet out and places another one in the magazine.

Proco’s Robo Packer case packer reportedly works interactively with human co-workers, requires no special guarding, and needs minimal training to learn new tasks. The system includes a cobot arm, infeed conveyor, and box conveyor on a common sub-frame with leveling pads and casters.

For one customer, the Robot Packer packs wide-mouth canisters at 30 bottles/min on each of two lines. The customer reduced its labor needs from three persons to one per shift for each line, and ROI was around 15 months.