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Winner: Robotic Automation & Amcor Cartons

PACE Zenith Awards

Automotive & Manufacturing category (sponsored by ifm efector)

Winner: Robotic Automation & Amcor Cartons
Project: Robotic End-of-Line Solution

(Pictured alongside is Robotic Automation sales manager, Stuart Scott.)
Robotic Automation teamed up with Amcor Cartons to offer them a solution to the problem of high-speed printing, folding, gluing and packing machines suddenly being "bottle-necked" by manual staff handling the boxed product in a labour-intensive process.

The Robotic End-of-Line Solution consists of three main component technologies: Robotic Palletising, Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Automatic Pallet Wrapping. The design and integration, including R&D, manufacture, build, testing and final on-site installation and commissioning was performed by Robotic Automation.

Each robot performs at the equivalent rate of two manual staff per shift, in up to three shifts per day, without need for break-times or shift changeover time. With seven lines in full operation to six cells, the six robots can do the work of more than 42 staff per day.

AGVs have allowed a more efficient and flexible use of current floor-space and cost-free adaptability to changing needs. Laser-guided accuracy optimises efficiency and safe motion of the vehicles.

The outcome has meant more on-going savings, productivity gains, reduced damage to product and a fast return on investment which meant the cost didn't have to be passed on to customers.

Stuart Scott (L) of Robotic Automation accepts the award from ifm efector's Dave Delany, sponsor of the Automotive and Manufacturing category.

Stuart Scott (L) of Robotic Automation accepts the award from ifm efector's Dave Delany, sponsor of the Automotive and Manufacturing category. 

Group engineering manager at Robotic Automation, Robert Gropp said that the major challenge during the project was to create a cost effective solution and they did this by keeping the population of the AGVs down to a minimum while still achieving the changeover speeds needed. 

"Pallet changeover times was actually the challenge, so we came up with some fairly innovative solutions involving multiple time arrangements on the AGVs in order to achieve it."

Sales manager, Stuart Scott explains the principle behind the End-of-Line Solution. "We took the cartons from an end of line system, we basically stacked it onto a pallet and moved it onto an AGV for distribution. The basic design was based on a lot of numbers so we had to do a lot of number crunching to come up with a plan and we've got to thank Amcor because they supported us no end."

Robotic Automation had to think outside the box in order to come up with solutions that would benefit their client most and this included double stacking the pallets for more efficiency.

"The AGV would normally carry only one pallet at a time and the innovation came about when we planned to carry two – the empty and the full at the same time. Now, that's easier said than done because the infrastructure around that needed to be specially designed to cater for this. So we actually carried model pallets, empty and full, over and under," said Gropp.

The judges recognised the innovative nature of the designs in their comments on the project. "This well-designed and excellently engineered project resulted in tangible gains for the stake holders. The project was delivered on time and within budget and delivered enormous productivity gains and helped lower costs."

When asked whether the concept behind the robotic end-of-line solution could be extended to other areas of the plant Gropp said that it was without question. "Definitely, and we're actually talking to Amcor currently about doing just that."

PACE Zenith Awards 2012: The Automotive and Manufacturing category is sponsored by ifm efector.PACE Zenith Awards 2012: Automotive & Manufacturing category is proudly sponsored by ifm efector
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