Sector News

SIG secures Arla Foods as first customer for robotic carton sleeve filling machine

July 25, 2021
Food & Drink

SIG is unveiling an automated robotic sleeve filling magazine – the R-CAM2 – for the F&B industry, which it says will help manufacturers reduce the need for human labor and improve workflow efficiency. Arla Foods has acquired the first magazine in efforts to boost productivity.

The magazine consists of two parts: a pallet magazine and an unpacking station, with the former providing space for two Euro pallets or industrial pallets. It is designed to automatically remove shipping boxes from the pallet, open them, and then load the filling machine with carton sleeves.

R-CAM 2 is also loaded with other time-saving features: it can run continuously for up to 2.5 hours without the need to change a pallet and compress and pack empty shipping boxes. This allows manufacturers to operate an end-to-end filling line with one operator.

“With this next-generation sleeve magazine, SIG created a highly robust, stable and reliable solution that is designed to cater to all filling machines in our current machine portfolio, making it a key component in building the fully automated filling lines of the future – and helping manufacturers save time and costs in the process,” says Stefan Mergel, senior product manager equipment at SIG.

Arla embraces industry 4.0
Arla acquired the first of SIG’s robotic sleeve magazines in 2015 and has become the first to adapt to the R-CAM 2.

“In order to meet our smart factory goals while placing more focus on employee productivity and efficiency, we required a sleeve magazine that needed no manual intervention from an operator,” says Peter Bratsch, project manager packaging at Arla Foods Germany.

“A sleeve magazine that could free up our employees to concentrate on other responsibilities – in addition to reducing their physical workload. With R-CAM 2, we can optimize the performance of all our filling lines, no matter how many carton packs they are designed to fill per hour.”

Arla has long been adapting to smart factory technology, having in 2019 developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to better predict its milk intake from farms. According to the company, 200 million kilos of milk are utilized more efficiently each year through the system by predicting how much milk 1.5 million cows will produce in the future.

Automation on the rise
Last year, SIG began expanding its use of industry 4.0 technology to cater to the demands of COVID-19 restrictions. In December, the company began equipping all new filling machines with industry-standard OPC Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) connectivity to drive greater flexibility in food and beverage manufacturing.

Built-in OPC-UA connectivity enables horizontal machine-to-machine and vertical communication within the entire production plant.

Many industry players are beginning to move into automated production as a way of cutting human costs and improving production times and standards. Syntegon this year invested in AI and robotics for its packaging manufacturing, using what it says is the first validated visual inspection system for production.

China-based Sirio Pharma also finalized what it says is the first fully automated factory in the nutraceutical business last year.

For more information on robots in packaging, we refer you to the Expert Views article, “Why you should consider using robots in your packaging operation,” by Jeremy Hadall, independent robotics and automation consultant.

Edited by Louis Gore-Langton

Source: foodingredientsfirst.com

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