The following content originally appeared in Beverage Innovation issue 130, which you can subscribe to here.
Technology boosts productivity Robotics, vision sensors and greater integration are making the automation of processes throughout the production line increasingly possible for today’s high throughput beverage manufacturers as Beverage Innovation found out.
Michael Fraede, market segment manager consumer goods, KUKA Robotics, spoke with Claire Rowan about the uptake of robots in the beverage sector.
Where is Kuka seeing the greatest uptake of robots?
In industrialised countries, thousands of robots are put into operation along the process chain in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) sector every year. Robot-based automation is also playing an increasingly important role in emerging economies, mainly in the BRIC countries. Cycle times and product weights shift as we move along the supply chain. At the start of the chain, short cycle times and low weight are the norm whereas by the palletising and depalletising stage this has changed to high loads and longer cycle times. No matter what requires palletising – bottles, cans, kegs or barrels, large or small, heavy or light, a single product or a whole layer – in consumer goods production, palletising robots must provide the highest degree of flexibility and strength.
What is driving the uptake of robots?
Thinking globally yet acting locally, an extremely dynamic consumer goods industry coupled with the desire for customisation of everyday products are the current challenges for the industry. Besides technical innovations, the continuing shortage of staff in the industry will also intensify the drive towards automation; and in the medium to long term, human-robot-collaboration and mobile robotics will open up completely new fields of application for a new generation of robots in the context of Industry 4.0.
How is the use of robots evolving?
The use of industrial robots has increased steadily in recent years. For Kuka’s customers, automation is key to higher productivity and greater cost-effectiveness – not only for big companies, but also for small and medium-sized enterprises. Automation improves product quality, reduces cost-intensive use of materials and minimises the consumption of dwindling energy resources. Robots replace the rigid and expensive special machines that were customary fifteen years ago with highly flexible automation solutions. In the past, industrial robots were used almost exclusively in the automotive sector and in series production. Thanks to the systematic ongoing development of robot and control technology, robots have are now established in many other sectors and for a variety of tasks. Kuka’s palletising robots offer a payload range from six to 1,300kg and are especially designed for palletising and unpalletising tasks. They combine short cycle times and increased throughput with low space requirements and high cost effectiveness, which is critical to the success of an automated solution in the FMCG sector.
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