ABB's robotics business won Food Processing magazine's Robotics and Automation award for the installation of two robotic lines at the Honeytop Speciality Food plant in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Nigel Platt, ABB's UK sales and marketing manager for robotics, says: "The award is the culmination of a lot of hard work by ABB engineers, and our channel partner, RG Luma, who designed, built and installed the production lines."
As Honeytop's first investment in robotic technology, the judges were impressed that the installation is dramatically reducing turnaround times, and, as a result, is ensuring the company can meet its customer's tight deadlines without delay.
The installation features two robotic lines, each of which utilises four FlexPicker IRB360 robots. The robots ensure the company meets its own stringent requirements for the hygienic handling of food, as well as reducing labour costs and improving health and safety.
Each production line features ABB's PickMaster 3.2 software and four IRC5 controllers. This combination has dramatically cut the changeover time between products, making it easier for Honeytop to meet its deadlines with high-quality products.
William Eid, director for Honeytop Speciality Foods, comments, "We work in an industry with very tight turnaround times. We receive daily orders that are expected to be out to the depots within 12 hours of production. We needed to increase the speed of the production line to meet these industry demands, all while reducing downtime. The robots have quickly enabled us to achieve this, by absorbing a number of overheads, thanks to low labour costs and improved productivity."
Andrew Jones, Sales Director at RG Luma, adds: "The Directors at Honeytop did express some apprehension about introducing robotics. Having integrated over 25 ABB robots in the past 12 months, we were confident in continuing to use such proven products, and this award demonstrates exactly why ABB robots are great for our customers' businesses."
The award was presented to Alan Spreckley, ABB channel Partner Manager, and Andrew Jones of RG Luma at a gala dinner following the Appetite for Engineering 2010 conference at the Hinckley Island Hotel in Leicestershire.
Platt comments: "It is significant to ABB, as the food and beverage industries are playing a key role in the growth of robotics in the UK. With over 54 per cent growth in 2009 for ABB, the food and beverage industry has recognised the trend to automate and food processors are getting on board, ready to boost their competitiveness and maintain consistently high product quality. Now, we need to challenge the rest of the manufacturing industry to do the same and recognise the return on investment available."
Follow the link for more information about the FlexPicker IRB360 robot.