Editor's Choice


How Danone SA pulled off its new automated palletising system

Second Quarter 2023 Editor's Choice Robotics & Mechatronics

When Yaskawa Southern Africa was contacted about Danone’s new automation project in Boksburg, the industrial robotics manufacturer teamed up with one of its preferred suppliers, Tectra Automation to offer a turnkey solution. Yaskawa brought its automation expertise to the project, rising to Danone’s challenge of creating additional lifting capacity and speed, thanks in no small part to its PL 190 palletising robots.

“Danone needed a fully automated palletising system. Until that point, all of the palletising was done by hand, which is labour-intensive and has an increased risk of injury,” explains Hannes Crouse, sales manager at Yaskawa Southern Africa. The installation of an automated palletising system allows manufacturers to simplify the palletising process while also increasing reliability, accuracy, and repeatability. Automated palletising systems rely on the robot’s accuracy and flexibility to decrease injury risk and downtime, while also solving ergonomic problems.

The challenge

Due to the size and complexity of the palletising system, the system had to be installed and commissioned in phases. “Large, complicated projects will always have challenges,” says Jaco de Beer, system engineering manager at Tectra Automation. “We worked through various technical challenges from cycle time issues to finding solutions for very limited space constraints in both width and height. Working closely with Yaskawa, we were able to solve those problems. Additionally, having various SKUs makes the automation process more complex. For example, some products may need to be rotated on the infeed side before they reach the robot. Lastly, we needed to make sure that the entire system met stringent European safety standards.”

At the start, Yaskawa and Tectra Automation had to plan around multiple pallet patterns, a challenging endeavour for any large-scale automation project. The way that goods are packed is not always robot-friendly, as robots are programmed to pick up as much as possible in one cycle to make the process cost effective.

The solution

To tackle the project in the most pragmatic way, the teams at Yaskawa and Tectra opted for a three-phase approach. There would also be three different cells that made up the system: a palletising cell with a Yaskawa PL 190 robot, and on the inside, a destacker and a stretch wrapper. As more space became available on the floor, the team would install a new cell in the area and conduct commissioning before running the product through it and beginning the testing phases.

Yaskawa’s deliverables included a robot base and a robot with a gripper attached. Two robotic technicians that specialised in programming applications worked closely with Tectra Automation and multiple others that helped with the mechanical installation.

Another key element of the system comes in the form of the two de-stackers. “A de-stacker holds a stack of empty pallets and feeds the system one pallet at a time to a ready location for the robot that requests it via a signal,” explains Crouse. “For that, we also used automatic carts, which are controlled, along with the entire system, with industrial Wi-Fi communication.

“When the system pulls a pallet, you will have one empty pallet on standby at the robot station and another that it is being palletising,” explains de Beer. When the current pallet that is being palletised is full, it will automatically eject onto another cart system that takes it to a wrapper. It is then automatically wrapped and ejected once more, where it is loaded onto the cart again and moved through to logistics.”

The result

Danone’s palletising system consists of seven robots with two de-stackers in the middle. There are also special slip sheets between a set number of boxes to give stability to the pallets. Automatic carts collect and move them from one stage to another via a rail system. The system was designed to handle a maximum throughput while the robotic palletising cells achieve an efficiency of 98%. “It is now fully automated,” says Crouse. “From where we start, it gets palletised, stacked, wrapped, and sent to logistics for transport. It is a stable production.”

Operators can now be trained at a higher level to manage parameters and keep an overview of the system while the heavy lifting moves off to the robots. Manufacturers that adopt automation understand that the future is about maintaining efficiency, quality, and reliability. This, in turn, leads to higher profit margins.

For more information contact Hannes Crouse, Yaskawa Southern Africa, +27 11 608 3186,

hannes.crouse@yaskawa-sa.co.za, www.yaskawa.za.com


Credit(s)



Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

WEG partners with Panaco in the DRC
Zest WEG Group Africa Editor's Choice News & events
The strengthened presence of WEG in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), through its strategic alliance with ts value-added reseller (VAR) Panaco, has proved to be highly successful.

Read more...
Execution of the massive Azmet Reactor project DRC
Editor's Choice News & events
The Azmet Reactor project, a collaborative effort led by Viva Engineering, involved fabricating six massive reactors that were over three stories high in Gauteng, and then transporting these more than 2500 kilometres to a mine in the DRC - where all 3265 parts fitted perfectly, with not even one of the 26 900 bolts out of place. This was a massive achievement.

Read more...
The time is now to implement a motor management strategy
Schneider Electric South Africa Editor's Choice Electrical switching & drive systems & components
Motor management plays an all-important role in controlling motor energy costs in various industries, segments and applications. Research and practical experience have consistently shown that effective motor management practices can result in significant energy savings, reduced operational costs, and improved overall system reliability.

Read more...
SKF’s successful raid action in Cape Town
SKF South Africa Editor's Choice Shaft power components
Authorities, with collaborative support from SKF, recently conducted a large and highly effective raid on a very well-known bearing seller of SKF bearings in Cape Town.

Read more...
Case study on automotive quality control
Motion Tronic Editor's Choice
Motion Tronic selected high-performance PLCs and HMIs from Inovance Technology to engineer a smart catalytic converter quality control solution for the exhaust facility at Toyota South Africa Motors.

Read more...
PC-based motion control on a labelling machine
Beckhoff Automation Editor's Choice Electrical switching & drive systems & components
For 50 years, Bausch+Ströbel in Germany has been developing packaging and production systems for the pharmaceutical industries. The company’s goal is to offer the best technical and economical solutions for the challenges of modern industry. Its new ESA1025 labelling machine shows how this is achieved with PC-based control from Beckhoff as the central motion controller.

Read more...
Thrust for hybrid electric flying
Editor's Choice Electrical switching & drive systems & components
Several leading academic institutes in Germany are collaborating on the future of hybrid electric flying. The partners are researching an entirely new propulsion system for medium-range aircraft with up to 35 passengers.

Read more...
Tough couplings for tough industries
Bearing Man Group T/A BMG Editor's Choice
BMG’s extensive range of power transmission components encompasses robust products from Regal Rexnord, a leading manufacturer of critical system components that perform efficiently under rigorous demands in diverse applications.

Read more...
Hydraulic connectors with residual pressure
Editor's Choice Hydraulic systems & components
Hydraulic connections are vital in both outdoor and indoor industrial machinery. However, the hydraulics lines frequently require connecting and disconnecting for maintenance or changeover. The goal is to enable quick, easy swaps to enhance machine flexibility and productivity.

Read more...
Inovance brings advanced motion control to South Africa
Motion Tronic Editor's Choice
Inovance and its South African distributor, Motion Tronic are launching the Easy Series PLC in this country, bringing its flexible, high-performance motion control solution to customers across South Africa in a wide range of industry sectors.

Read more...