Common Software Environment
Robots have to load the tray not only with carton-packed products, but also flow-packed products, which are conceived to be sold in outlets.
“Products in bags have to be picked and moved more delicately, because they are less protected than they are in a carton box, and we initially had some perplexities: could a robot deliver the same care as an operator’s hand?” Scornaienchi says. “Thanks to special gripping tools and advanced control configuration, the robots can offer delicate handling, preserving the product in both cases.”
Livetech designed a multiformat line to form, fill and close the trays. The first station comprises an automatic unit that loads and forms the die-cut cardboard. Three robotic islands are the core of the line. They take the products coming from the conveyor belt — which is connected to the primary packaging machine — and place them on the tray in the correct numbers. Different gripping tools are used depending on the package of the single product (case or bag).
When a format changeover is needed, robots rotate toward the operator, who can replace the gripping equipment. The tray then passes to a weighing station, where a cell verifies weight parameters. If the tray contains the right quantity of pieces, they move to the next robotic aisle, where the robot puts glue to the edges of the cardboard die-cut and folds them, forming a containment perimeter.
Then another piece of cardboard is placed above to cover the products. The trays are stacked one on top of the other, up to a maximum of three, and move to the palletizing station.
The automation architecture is based on an Allen-Bradley CompactLogix 1769-L36 programmable automation controller (PAC) from Rockwell Automation. This automation platform helped to minimize installation and start-up time in the Galbusera plant, because of a common software environment and an integrated axis control, which met the precision and speed requirements of the robotic islands.
Two Allen-Bradley Kinetix 5500 servo-drives are connected to the controller, while four Allen-Bradley Kinetix single-cable VPL servo-motors are connected to the servo-drives. An Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 525 variable-speed drive, an Allen-Bradley PanelView Plus7 graphic terminal and several Allen-Bradley POINT I/O modules complete the architecture.
High Quality, Automated Packaging
Galbusera now has a more automated secondary packaging process, without compromising the high quality for which its products are known. Ronconi points out that in Galbusera automation is adopted where it delivers the most value. “The secondary packaging of small batches is still manual,” he says, “and our operators have the possibility to control and supervise the line.”
The new automation platform also helped improve the flexibility of the secondary packaging line “We initially wanted to standardize the trays, but while developing the system, we changed our minds and chose a flexible solution that had to be able to adapt the bottom of the tray according to the quantity of the pieces to be contained.”
The CompactLogix PAC with integrated motion allows operators to perform quicker format changeovers and doesn’t require the plant to be stopped upstream.
Preserving and handling products correctly throughout the process is a must for Galbuseraand it can be sure that consumers enjoy its colombe and panettoni in perfect condition.