Automatic Box Filling Case Study
A chemical manufacturing company were looking for help with automation of one of their packing lines. Their existing packing line was a semi-automated process for loading 5L bottles of chemicals into boxes. They were having some issues with this process so they were looking to have the process fully automated and updated.
The 5L chemical bottles were being fed along a conveyor into a manual packing station. At the manual packing station there was a box erector making up the boxes, the bottles were then loaded off the conveyor into the boxes by hand, then the boxes would pass through a box sealer and out into a palletising area.
They had been experiencing several issues with this packing system:
- It was a very labour intensive system with large amounts of manual handing. This was a health and safety issue as repetitive strain injuries were occurring.
- The speed of the production line was limited to the speed that the operator could fill the boxes. They needed to increase their production speeds.
- The cartons needed to be labelled and ink jet printed on the ends of the boxes. This was having to be done manually before the boxes were put into the box erector machine.
- Their existing box erector and tape sealing machines were old and in need of replacement.
The key features that they required in their automated system included:
- A new box erector and sealer.
- An automatic method of loading the 5L cleaning chemicals bottles from the conveyor into the boxes.
- Automatic labelling and ink jet printing of the ends of the boxes.
As a result of Granta’s Diaspec process and close consultation with the customer, Granta have built and installed a complete packing line. This packing line has been built to allow for different box sizes and different types of chemical bottles to be processed. The packing line includes the following;
- Box Erector – The box erector is fed with flat, unassembled cardboard boxes. It then automatically assembles the box and folds and tapes the bottom. The box is then placed on a conveyor that moves it out to the robotic box filing area with the top flaps of the box open and ready for filling.
- Robotic Box Filler – The robot used to fill the boxes is a 6 kg, 6 axis, Kuka Agilus robot which has been fitted with a specialist gripper that is designed to lift the chemical bottles by the handles. The system also incorporates special guides to ensure that the bottles are fed into the box correctly every time.
- Automatic Box Sealing – Once the bottles have been placed into the box, the box moves along the conveyor, away from the robotic box filling station into the automatic box sealing machine. The top flaps of the box are then folded over and sealed automatically with tape.
- Box Labeller – The sealed boxes then have a label applied to either the end or the side of the box depending on what is required. Each label is date coded and barcoded for traceability.
- Production Monitoring – The complete packing line has an inbuilt production monitoring system. Sensors and data logging systems instantly report faults which ensures better accuracy and repeatability, this in turn has created faster production speeds and increased throughput. All data is logged and can be accessed remotely.