Robotic case packer takes on flexible sweet bags

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Robotics Robot

Flexible confectionery bags with uneven features are a challenge for automatic case packing. Meeting this growing demand, US firm Fallas Automation recently launched its robotic case packer Adabot R700, a case-packing system that tracks and picks products 'on the fly' at high speed.

Billed as a packer "that's agile and easily changed over – an innovation engineered to make a food packager smile",​ Fallas has developed the product further. The Texas-based firm recently announced its robotic case packer has "new capabilities",​ to enhance a product designed to be "more powerful"​ than general purpose robots.

Essentially, the Adabot R700 picks bags off the belt as they come out of the wrapping machine, one at a time, and then places them anywhere in the case.

Its speed capacity is 90 bags per minute with a single cell, and 180 bags per minute using two cells, with the ability to operate up to four robot cells using US firm Elau's PacDrive™ automation controller.

But Fallas Automation said recently that, in contrast to alternative products on the market that are "limited to 1 kilo payloads and shallow cases, especially at higher speeds,"​ the Adabot R700's highly rigid carbon fibre robot arm can handle payloads of up to 5 lb (2.26 kilos) at up to 40 cpm or to 2 1/2 lbs (0.99kilo) at up to 60 cpm.

Further, the Adabot can load extra deep cases at speed without needing to drop the products a long way, the company added.

Tackling hard-to-grip flexible packages – a common format for confectionery packaging – the case packer, available in a stainless steel washdown construction for food applications, possesses a new "high durometer bellows material"​ that "enhances the Adabot’s ability to handle difficult-to-grip bagged products"​, claims Fallas.

The Adabot is "ideally suited for club store sized confections"​,​adds the firm, but it is just as efficient at handling small portion packs.

Handling for flexible packages

At the launch of the Adabot R700 last year, Fallas stated that conventional machines "can only produce A or B case-packing patterns with tooling changes"​. By contrast, they added, the "robotic flexibility"​ of the Adabot enables it to perform any combination of A, B and U patterns (including chimney stacks) through a simple programming change, without needing to collate the product or shift the case.

"Any pattern you want, so it maximises the volume of the case, because the head has a module that rotates 90 or 180 degrees as it goes into the case,"​ said sales manager Chris Calabrese at the product launch.

According to the firm, their robotic case packer does not require lug belts or indexing systems to accumulate or rotate the product systems "that can compromise product integrity and be troublesome at high speeds"​.

Fallas also claims that the Adabot synchronises with the infeed belt through an encoder to deliver control of the robot arm "that is fast and highly accurate"​. The product is never touched until it is picked up with a vacuum head.

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