A novel collaborative case packing and palletising system is making life easier for staff at Baxter Laboratories, the Boronia, Victoria based manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and skin care products, including the iconic Aerogard insect repellent sprays.
The system was designed and built by Andrew Donald Design Engineering (ADDE), a Universal Robots Certified System Integrator, and features collaborative robots to perform the most physically demanding and back injury prone tasks on the production line.
The heart of the system is ADDE’s Zero Footprint Palletiser (ZFP), which takes up no more space than a pallet on the floor and an operator. It integrates a Universal Robots UR10 robot to create a collaborative and flexible palletiser.
Importantly, the UR10 robot can be used without a safety cage or barrier (subject to a suitable risk assessment), and so can effectively collaborate with the production line staff.
“The intuitive nature of the UR10 provided a great starting point for us to build a flexible, easily programmable solution that takes up minimal factory floor space. The ZFP enables workers to continue to perform production line tasks in collaboration with the robot, while relieving factory staff from the risks of the repetitive task of stacking pallets,” says Barry Hendy, Managing Director at ADDE.
The ZFP can handle up to six cases per minute, and can be used to carry boxes weighing up to 8kg. It can be configured for single pallets for minimum footprint or in a double pallet configuration for automatic pallet changing.
At Baxter Laboratories, ADDE has teamed the ZFP with a collaborative case packing system that uses a Universal Robots UR5 robotic arm to assist with packing 12 Aerogard insect repellent spray bottles into a semi-automatic carton assembler.
The cases are then fed to the ZFP, which packs them onto a pallet, ready to be distributed.
According to Ian Tilley, Operations Manager at Baxter Laboratories, the combined system has revolutionised the company’s packaging operation, which used to involve three staff: two to pack the Aerogard spray bottles into the cases and one to load the cases onto the pallets, all by hand.
“One of our most monotonous and difficult jobs is actually stacking pallets, so we looked at the market and couldn’t find anything in the traditional space without big robots and big cages - we needed something safe and space efficient.
“Having the minimal factory floor footprint that we required, we selected and thoroughly risk assessed the ZFP before deciding it could be safely operated without guarding.”
“The whole process has become safer and more efficient,” says Tilley. “We now have one employee who erects the box, waits for it to be filled by the UR5, then pushes the box to the tape sealer before it is then passed along to the ZFP, which picks up the finished box and places it onto a pallet for distribution. The other employees formerly performing the palletising and packing have been redirected to safer, more value adding tasks that are less monotonous,” he adds.
Ian Tilley has become a big fan of ADDE palletisers, and Baxter Laboratories has just installed four more units to cover all its packing lines.
Andrew Donald Design Engineering
03 9760 9600