By using the Transmodul, the NOA machine achieves a very high performance despite individual processing.
The display cartons are placed upright and filled from above with the horizontally held cups.
The tool on the F2 robot is equipped with four spring suction cups to pick up the cups.
In the alignment station, four products are each placed on four separate rotary stands.
The individual Transmoduls each transport four erected display cartons simultaneously through the line.
NOA needed a new packaging system for its plant, which would fully automatically pack the freshly filled vegan spreads directly from production into display cartons. However, the greatest care would have to be taken to ensure that the warm, still liquid contents would not spill out of the round plastic packaging.
For the packaging of its milk products such as Exquisa and Miree, renowned Allgäu family business Karwendel-Werke Huber has been working together with Crailsheim-based packaging machine manufacturer Schubert. Since 2016, Karwendel has built up a second, plant-based product world with the NOA brand. This is why Schubert was brought on board to plan the packaging process even before the NOA spreads were launched on the market. In order to prevent contamination of vegan products, the production of plant-based foods is completely separated from milk processing. With this in mind, NOA rebuilt the entire production chain with all the machines prior to launching the vegan brand.
In the new packaging line, the various spreads for sale have to be packed into display cartons according to type. The most important requirement for the system’s automation was the gentle handling of the cups so that the still liquid content does not spill out during the packaging process. In the supermarket, however, the cups do not stand on their base, but rather vertically in the sales display carton. In order to still ensure a clean filling of the plastic cups with the initially still liquid spreads, the cartons had to be filled upright. Additionally, the NOA lettering on the round lid of each cup had to be correctly aligned so that it is clearly legible for the customer in the supermarket.
In order to package the products as gently as possible, Schubert dispensed with all grouping aids and mechanical parts that could potentially damage the primary packaging. Instead, in the fully automated process, each cup is taken over individually, moved gently in a horizontal plane and aligned such as the text is readable by the customer. Nevertheless, a high machine performance had to be achieved. The experienced experts at Schubert use a special trick for this: Instead of grouping or transferring each product with a pick & place robot, the TLM packaging machine processes four NOA cups in parallel with F2 robots. A single tool is provided for each cup.
Support is provided by the Transmodul, Schubert’s transport robot. The individual Transmoduls simultaneously feed four erected display cartons, so that each carton can pick up one cup at a time during each filling process. And in this case, the great flexibility of the transport robot offers an additional advantage: During carton erection, gluing and sealing, the system does not work with four elements at the same time, but only in pairs. Thanks to intelligent control technology, the Transmodul waits at each station until the second pair is processed.
- Compact machine layout
- Horizontal product handling only
- Transmodul enables intelligent processes
The new TLM system consists of three frames and performs the entire packaging process up to the sealing of the cartons on a compact length of only 5.9 metres. All display carton formats have an integrated cover and a semi-circular cut-out. They are fed in pairs from the magazine and erected on edge by an F2 robot so that they can be filled from above. The Transmodul then conveys four pieces at a time through the packaging process. Parallel to this, the plastic cups are fed into the system in a random order on a belt. A Schubert scanner reads the lettering on the covers at the infeed and sends the information to the alignment station. Schubert chose a so-called spring suction cup to pick up the products from the conveyor belt. With this F2 robot, four suction cups sit in series on a robot arm; they do not move synchronously, but one after the other. Each suction cup moves down individually in a flexible cycle and picks up one of the containers from the belt. If all four suckers are occupied, the robot arm places the containers on the four separate rotary stands of the alignment station. There, the containers are rotated so that the lettering is aligned identically. Another F2 robot then picks up the products and places them from above into the display cartons provided. This allows each plastic cup to be processed individually and still achieve a cycle of four products per station. The cartons are filled with four, six or twelve cups depending on the format. Finally, the cartons are glued in pairs, closed and fed out of the line via another belt.
- 80 cups per minute, 4,800 per hour
- Carton trays of 4, 6 and 12ct
- High performance of up to 99%
- Compact length of 5.9 m
- Transmodul in use