With the global taste for Spanish bubbly continuing to flourish, Freixenet – one of the country’s leading producers and exporters of sparkling wine – this year toasts two decades of successful collaboration with FANUC and its yellow robots.
Back in 1996, the family enterprise took an innovative step into automation. Starting with just two 410 series FANUC robots, the winery now comprises a 36-strong line-up. Producing in excess of 185 million bottles of wine and Spanish cava annually, the robotic fleet – each affectionately named after a cartoon character by Freixenet technicians – handles all of the bottling, storage and palletising at the company’s headquarters located in the Catalan region.
Four years after the first installation, total production, which includes iconic brands like Cordon Negro and Carta Nevada, reached more than half of all Spanish sparkling wine manufactured. Sold in more than 150 international markets, more than 80 per cent of the wine Freixenet currently produces is exported.
Pere Gibert Guasch, Maintenance Manager at Friexenet attributes its approach to innovation and collaborating with the best brands for strengthening the company’s position. Pere notes: “Being the world’s best cava is our biggest asset. Automation enables us to produce our product safely, in the most efficient and sustainable form.”
The entire process of filling bottles at Freixenet’s main plant is now entirely automated. FANUC robots also carefully place each bottle into controlled cellar storage conditions and when ready for shipment, box and bale the pallets.
Pere recalls: “Twenty years ago, some felt introducing industrial robots was a ‘crazy idea’. Where other robot manufacturers saw only difficulties, FANUC saw opportunities and encouraged us with the project.” Raising a glass to the collaborative relationship, Pere defines FANUC in just one word – reliability.
Since the 1920s, reinvention and innovation have been behind many of Freixenet’s commercial successes. In the 1980s, the company was the first in Spain to pneumatically press grapes and use refrigerated vats to control fermentation. Although their wines continue to be produced in the traditional method from the winery at Sant Sadurni D’Anoia, the company’s keenness to incorporate robotics to boost quality and production efficiency is perhaps why this fifth-generation family business has such an enduring heritage and prosperous future ahead.
More information about Fanuc robots can be found at www.fanuc.eu.