Robot palletising technology is packing eggs in a quicker, less damaging, safer and cheaper way

from CKF Systems into its existing out-feed egg-packing system to reduce product damage.

CKF designed, manufactured and installed the packing and palletising systems at two of the egg supplier’s sites. The company was commissioned to automate its packing to reduce the number of eggs that were damaged, increase throughput and reduce the amount of manual handling involved, reducing costs and increasing safety. The systems have proved themselves already by running smoothly and dramatically improving operations.

The new system was installed into the existing Moba out-feed egg-packing system which fills cartons of various sizes and materials and closes their lids. This previously fed the eggs to a manual packing station. Now, the system feeds the filled and closed cartons onto the out-feed conveyor – the set-up of which is determined by the current production requirements.

The solution includes a vision system which verifies that the use-by date has been included and that the lid is closed. If the lid is not closed or the date is incorrect or missing, the product is rejected and sent to the reject conveyor for removal. Automating this process means faulty product is removed swiftly from the line, preventing it reaching the customer and ensuring the quality of the end product.

If the product passes the quality tests, the egg carton is transferred onto the collation infeed conveyor unit which transfers and orientates the product correctly ready to be conveyed to the box splitter unit. Where two packs of 6-egg cartons are joined and need to be split, the box splitter unit is used to split the cartons using a blade without damaging the eggs. The box splitter can cut both pulp and plastic cartons which offers versatility to the customer.

The solution has a product spacing unit which uses pneumatic stop gates to ensure there is a set amount of space between the cartons of eggs or a group of egg cartons to allow for pack orientation or for repositioning into the correct lane.

“We encountered a number of issues through the planning and implementation of this project due to the variety in pack materials used,” explains Chris Young, CKF’s project engineer. “We utilised a combination of belt materials and surface textures to overcome this issue.”

A low back pressure chain roller conveyor moves the egg cartons through to the robot sorting collation conveyor. The sorting modular belt conveyor encoder is used to track the carton positions, enabling the sorting robot to reposition the packs to create the required collation. The system utilises an ABB IRB1200 sorting robot system which is programmed to arrange the cartons of eggs into specific patterns on the sorting modular belt conveyors as required by the packing robot.

Once the egg cartons are grouped in the required pattern, the robot will pick the group of egg cartons from either of the two streams and place them into the selected container for that specific production run. In the case of shipper/bulkier containers, they are then removed by a forklift so they can be transported to the supermarket ensuring that customers have unlimited access to fresh eggs. Alternatively, if cardboard display cases are being packed, once full they are automatically discharged from the robot cell via a conveyor system and transferred for palletising.

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