Food & Drink Process & Packaging Issue 7 2016 - Page 16

Fanuc The LRMate 200iD ROBOTIC POT SWAP UNIT RESPONDS TO RETAIL DEMANDS In response to rising retailer demand for mixed product trays, FANUC has collaborated with integrator Pacepacker Services to engineer a first-of-its-kind robotic pot swap tray loading system. The robotic pick and place unit swaps pots between cardboard trays combining FANUC’s LR Mate200iD robot with Pacepacker’s new Mixed Tray Loader (MTL) technology. It provides a flexible and compact solution for generating the assorted trays of product that are increasingly being requested by retailers. “The trend towards pallets of mixed products, driven by retailers requiring smaller, more frequent deliveries, is now being extended to case level. Mixed trays or cases allow supermarkets to offer a broader choice of product sizes, flavours and variants and to keep their shelves replenished without having to hold a lot of stock. Equally, convenience and inner-city stores are finding that mixed cases or trays allow them to offer a far wider product range on restricted shelf space,” says John Rainer, Regional Sales Manager from FANUC UK, explaining the rationale for the launch of the robotic product swap unit. The robotic pot swap system can be configured as either an offline or an online system. The system developed and installed by Pacepacker Services at the UK dip producer was an offline execution, positioned over twin lanes of filled trays. The picking heads remove one line of product from the first tray, and place it into the second tray. The process is then reversed to swap items in both trays. In an online configuration, the MTL would typically be fed by multiple product lines, with a robot picking a row from one conveyor and placing it in a tray, then picking a row from another conveyor and so on.