3 minute read • published in partnership with Stäubli
Insight: Using robots to keep pace with high volume and consumer demand
Unlike physically larger mass produced products such as vehicles, which can have a lifespan of several years before facelifts are required, the world of consumer goods is one of an ever changing environment, where both the products and the packaging are regularly updated.
The constant demand by consumers for something new or better, means that manufacturers of FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) products need both the highest levels of flexibility within their production facilities, and the capability to respond quickly to changing demands.
The evolution of high speed robots, such as Stäubli’s TP80 FAST picker, now makes it possible for manufacturers to keep pace with high volume production and the ever changing requirements of the FMCG sector.
Dedicated automation was once the preferred solution to high volume pick and place or product handling applications. These systems tended to be configured around a relatively narrow application requirement, and whilst highly effective for the product for which they were designed, they offered little scope for adapting to changes in product type or design.
By comparison, robots have always been capable of offering the highest levels of flexibility in any manufacturing environment, however their only real limitation, when initially considering many consumer goods applications, was that of speed.
Today Stäubli’s TP80 is the latest innovation in picker technology, with the capability to handle product at a continuous rate of 200 units per minute. This positions the FAST picker as an ideal solution for pick and place and assembly applications across a variety of FMCG industry sectors such as food, pharmaceutical, photovoltaic and healthcare.
Although there are a number of robots from different manufacturers competing in this space, the TP80 offers a number of distinct advantages in addition to its high speed. The TP80’s wall mountable configuration does not require a large mounting plinth such as those needed for Delta robots. This means that the robot does not have to be mounted directly over the product, which offers many benefits when considering the integration of the robot and subsequent maintenance etc. There is also much less opportunity for product contamination when the robot is mounted in this way. The TP80 also has a fully enclosed rigid structure with all cables and lines running through the inside of the arm, and a larger working envelope with higher repeatability throughout its working range than other robots in this class.
Not only is the TP80 the world’s fastest picker, in its HE guise, which is based on EHEDG recommendations, it is fully designed for hygienic packaging and processing. Its unique design makes this robot completely airtight to work in humid environments.
Craig Forrester from Stäubli, said: “The TP80 is specifically designed for any application requiring high speed pick and place of small items. Both end users and integrators are already praising this new technology confirming that it is; easier to integrate, has fewer moving parts, which means higher reliability and is competitively priced when compared to Delta robots. In addition, as it’s not installed directly over the conveyor or production line, integration is simpler and there is easy access in the event of service needing to be done. The HE version of the TP80 FAST Picker has also opened up a broad range of new applications within the food sector.”