Project Objectives / Requirements:

Setting The Scene

As a leading manufacturer and retailer of quality bakery items, our UK based client has grown significantly over the past few years. With ambitious objectives for future growth driving the need for operational enhancements at their large-scale production and storage facility, additional automated solutions would be necessary.

Having previously installed a number of L-A-C Logistics Automation conveyors and smaller systems at their site, they were now looking at the next stage of their growth trajectory aimed at quadrupling production, and were relying on L-A-C Logistics Automation to deliver an automated solution to achieve the operational efficiency levels and throughput speeds required, as well as improving traceability and the overall pick and pack process.

With such an increase in production levels, the new automated palletising cell from L-A-C Logistics Automation would need to manage accurate tray stacking, combined with tray orientation & labelling, palletising and wrapping of 60 tray stacks per pallet, running 24/7. The client would need three identical solutions to cope with the volume across the new production lines.





Meeting the High Throughput Requirement

The Challenge

Their existing system used two robots to pick and stack the trays however should a tray be wrongly orientated or dislodged from the line, the system would not be able to detect this, leading to loss of product.

Each of the three end-of-line solutions required would need to address these issues and be extremely robust, capable of handling a minimum of 16 trays per minute, working 24/7. Additionally, the trays would contain around 50-60 items leading to an overall pallet weight of around 200kg that needed to be accurately and safely handled ready for storage prior to shipment to their network of retail stores. The need for enhanced traceability would mean label application to each individual tray as well as each completed pallet would need to be integrated.

The speed of the solution would also be a considerable factor as the items would be picked from freezer storage, transported to the ambient pick and pack area, before being taken as complete pallets, to a secondary freezer storage area to await distribution.

Streamlining the Pallet Serialisation Process

The Solution

The design experts at L-A-C Logistics Automation devised a fully automated pick, stack and palletising solution combining a number of key components. These included a vision sensor and turntable to aid orientation, labelling machine, a tray stacker, pallet dispenser, ring wrapper and an ABB robot.

The trays complete with products are transferred onto an L-A-C Logistics Automation 24v powered roller conveyor. The vision sensor then checks for orientation with a turntable fitted to ensure each tray is correctly aligned. Each tray then has a label applied, before the tray stacker compiles 20 trays in one stack, before being picked and placed by the ABB robot onto the pallet which is fed into the correct position via an integrated pallet dispenser. The pallet when complete with 60 trays, is then wrapped and labelled before being moved via an LAC pallet conveyor to the end zone where a forklift collects the pallet and transports it to the storage area, ready for dispatch to stores.

With handling the volume and speed of product being a considerable challenge, L-A-C Logistics Automation enhanced the stacker solution to include servo motors, designed to provide precise control for speed and positioning, ideally suited to this type of application where accuracy and repeatability are vital.

Impact of LAC solution

The Benefits

The L-A-C Logistics Automation design has provided our customer with a fully automated and extremely robust solution that is capable of handling 20 trays per minute, equating to 6 million SKU items per line, per week. Each of the three lines automates the entire pick and pack process, to provide a highly accurate system that ensures product integrity, speed of throughput and safe handling of heavy trays.

The three integrated end-of-line systems will help our customer achieve their growth objectives, improve traceability and enhance vital pick and pack processes, ensuring both operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.





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