Vision-guided robot picks and places sliced meat

ABB and AEW Delford have helped The Charkman Group to maximise production and optimise yields thanks to a robotic system for packing meat.

ABB Limited and AEW Delford, a UK-based supplier of meat slicing equipment, portion control and weigh price labelling machines and systems, have worked together to enable The Charkman Group, a producer and processor of cooked meat, to maximise production and optimise yields. The Charkman Group is benefiting from an intelligent new robotic system that has helped it to transform its meat packing operation at its Fernebrand Chark plant in Boras, Sweden.

Having recognised the need to continue developing its plant automation to meet growing demands, The Charkman Group approached AEW Delford to supply one of its intelligent portion loading (IPL) robots, which utilises ABB robots, for its existing manual slicing line. The new line needed to handle more than 26 pack variations and a multitude of product sizes, while introducing labour-saving benefits and improving hygiene, health and safety.

The new line comprised a Junior Slicer and an IPL robot, which featured ABB's 340 stainless steel Flexpicker - claimed to be the fastest picking robot in the world.

While the Junior Slicer works continuously, producing shingles and stacks of products that are placed onto a conveyor, the IPL robot consistently and accurately loads the product into preformed trays, containing 10-24 slices per tray. The robot picks up the sliced groups and places them carefully into the tray to produce a visually pleasing overlapped pack. The robotic cell then conveys the loaded trays into a flow wrapper for packing and sealing prior to being weighed, priced and labelled, ready for distribution.

Vision-assisted picking

Capable of handling up to 150 picks per minute, the IRB 340 FlexPicker system utilises vision technology to accurately recognise the position and orientation of portions on the conveyor via the Cognex vision system.

This system is supported by ABB's PickMaster software, offering additional support for high-speed picking applications, several robots and high product flows. The PC-based software uses a graphical interface to configure applications where up to eight robots may work in a team through the packaging process. The software can also be set up to handle as many as 100 product programmes with room for an additional five robot cells to join the manufacturing line, ensuring Charkman has the room for additional developments

The Charkman's Group new automated production line, provided by AEW Delford Systems using ABB's IRB 340 Flexpicker, has been successfully operating for nearly two years. With the improvements achieved by the robots, the Charkman Group is now able to manufacture a wide range of products in increasingly large volumes.

For more information on AEW Delford IPL robots visit www.aewdelford.com. Alternatively, to find out about the potential benefits of integrating robots into a production process, email robotics@gb.abb.com.

ABB Limited

Orion House
Maidstone Road
Kingston
Milton Keynes
MK10 0BD
UNITED KINGDOM

+44 (0)1908 350300

contact.centre@gb.abb.com

www.abb.com/robotics

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