Here in Boston, engineering has always been part of our history from the building of the Stump to the 1st automated fair ride.

The brief

We have been tasked by a top blue-chip FMCG company to help them with automating their factory. If this is a success, they are planning on streamlining all their factories worldwide. The challenge was creating a robust system that would work autonomously without the intervention from a human and to fit in the client’s small footprint. The objective of the project was to develop a new fully automated delivery system to move their skillets (unformed boxes) to a case erector machine.

The solution

This would be carried out using the latest mobile industrial robots available (MiR) with a view to running the factory as a ‘lights out plant’. The MiR system was to deliver boxes of skillets by way of an inhouse developed top conveyor module, that would be ‘plug and play’ to a bespoke tipping and loading machine. This machine needed to incorporate technologies that would then accurately transfer whole boxes of skillets to a dispensing area at the end of the line. Ready for collection one at a time via the case erector machine.

There were several uncertainties reagdaring whether it was possible to achieve a type of automated mechanism that could handle a box of loose skillets. As well as then safely and accurately transferring them whilst in production. The aim was to provide a seamless constant top-up of skillets delivered to the case erector.

The skillet loading machine went through numerous design changes to enable it to load the skillets consistently so as they would remain upright. They are only 1.2mm thick and needed to stand up on their edge. A prototype marshalling system was developed to allow the collection of skillets one at a time and fed to the case erector. The system also needed to know when to activate the call for resupply the loading machine ‘just in time’. In itself, this was a challenge using the software programmed into the robot and integrating it into our system.

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