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Kawasaki Robotics has supplied an automated packaging line – comprising two Kawasaki FD50 robots, conveyors and guarding – to Greencore Prepared Meals.

The automated packaging line will be used for Greencore’s high-output lasagne products.

The end-of-line system was delivered, installed and made available for commissioning during a single weekly hygiene shift.

Other than checkweighers and metal detectors, Greencore’s production before the robot palletisers was labour intensive.

Ongoing implementation of Lean principles led to several process improvements that cleared the way to make automation justifiable.

Previous experiences of equipment supply and implementation led Greencore to adopt a hands-on approach, choosing to project manage several suppliers, including Kawasaki Robotics and First Engineering.

Jo Rice, continuous improvement leader at Greencore, said: ‘We developed the layout of the system in partnership with Kawasaki Robotics – we had a confined space to work with and Kawasaki’s know-how together with our process knowledge helped everything to run exactly to plan and very smoothly.

‘Our customers, in particular the leading supermarkets, are committed to continuous new product development, which meant that Kawasaki was continually being requested to add new palletising programmes during the development process.

‘This functionality of the system, together with Greencore’s overall investment in the system, has been positively acknowledged during customer visits to this site,’ she added.

Introduction of the system has seen the development of technician roles responsible for each line – this is a new function as previously one individual would be allocated a single item of equipment.

Initial apprehension of capabilities to support the technology has been unfounded as individuals have been kept involved throughout the development process.

Rice said that Kawasaki provided very good training before the equipment was installed and in addition involved Greencore’s personnel during the commissioning process.

The lasagne line produces packs that are assembled into boxes by the case erector.

The boxes travel along the conveyor to the robot pick-up area where they are located by the robot’s vacuum gripper.

The robot then picks up the box, at a rate of 10 boxes per minute, and places it in the correct orientation onto the pallet stack.

Each of the two robot cells are designed for easy manual input and output of pallets.

A mechanical ‘Vee’ location allows pallets to be manually driven into the cell and accurately located.

Space was confined and the Kawasaki robot’s compact design, together with well-designed diagonal positioning of the light guard system, has allowed the capability to palletise with very easy and safe human access if required.

Commissioning of the system was complete within two weeks, allowing operators that were previously manually palletising cases to be allocated to less repetitive work in other areas.

Kawasaki Robotics

Based on 40 years of experience in the development and production of industrial robots, Kawasaki Robotics provides state-of-the-art technology as well as comprehensive knowledge and services in many different applications. Kawasaki Robotics (UK) Ltd. of Warrington, UK supports customers in the UK and Ireland.

We offer extensive technical support including spare-parts service, comprehensive product and applications training, 3D simulations, engineering and many other services.

Quality products

Based on the renowned Japanese quality, Kawasaki Robotics offers you a full line of industrial robots for many different applications. For instance, arc and spot welding, palletising, handling, assembly, painting, sealing as well as clean-room applications, just to mention a few areas.

With payloads between 2 and 500Kg for many different applications in various production processes, Kawasaki industrial robots are used in almost all industry sectors.

Technical service

Kawasaki Robotics provides the best possible services to support their customers and ensure uninterrupted operations of their robots. Experienced technicians are at the customer's disposal for implementing initial operation, equipment maintenance, troubleshooting and repair, as well as a professional spare parts service.

Engineering support and simulation

Our application engineers assist you with the offline programming as well as with 3D simulation of your automation solution to optimise economical use of our industrial robots. This will cut the high costs of your initial operational tests. Optimisation of your automation solution at Kawasaki Robotics starts as early as the planning phase.

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