Automation processes to package food, confectionery, cosmetics and similar products have so far mostly been limited to the packaging machine itself. The infeed, however, is often done manually, as it can rarely be handled cost-effectively by machine. With the powerful and fast tog.519 cobot, packaging machine manufacturer Schubert has now not only automated pick & place tasks in the infeed, but also ushered in a whole new level of flexibility to the production and packaging process.
Simply place a new product on the conveyor and it’s ready to go. That’s how quickly Schubert’s tog.519 cobot can now change formats.
Highly flexible and extremely versatile – even in combination with machines from other manufacturers
The integrated systems – from the robot arm through the control system and image processing all the way to the cooling and protective cell – make the cobots entirely autonomous and mobile. They can be used very effectively to close automation gaps at different and ever-changing points along the production process. They can then either be free-standing, placed in a protection cell or combined to form an entire cobot line. Their range of applications is hugely diverse. For example, the tog.519 can load a flow-wrapping machine’s infeed chains from a bin, pick up bottles for a filling machine from the conveyor and orient them correctly, pick up a wide variety of unsorted products and place them into cartons, or even assemble mixed packs. The cobots not only work with Schubert machines, but also with third-party systems and even robots from other manufacturers. The cobot will also be of great interest to integrators, because Schubert enables the purchase of system components, such as AI-supported image processing, individually.
At up to 90 cycles per minute, the tog.519 picks confectionery or other small-sized products out of the bin or off the conveyor belt and places them into any conceivable destination – without requiring any complex programming.
An all-new level of automation for manufacturers
For manufacturers, for example in the fast-moving food or cosmetics industry, who constantly need to release new products onto the market and adapt packaging formats, the cobots now offer a very straightforward and highly variable solution for the entire packaging process. The tog.519 can be deployed virtually wherever needed, depending on the current requirements and situation, and provide real support to make automation cost-effective, to keep production running, to fill in for missing skilled workers, to compensate for machine stops or to quickly introduce new formats. The cobot’s extraordinary versatility opens up entirely new opportunities for companies to flexibly automate their packaging processes and raise their existing production to an all-new level.
The Cobot, which is now ready for series production, was presented at interpack 2023.
AI-supported image processing ensures extremely easy operation
An AI-supported image processing system developed by Schubert is what makes the cobots so flexible and easy to operate. It recognises both the products as they are picked up and the environment in which they are to be placed. The cobots’ neural network is so extensively trained that the robots can immediately process new products from the same product group. For example, pouches (sachets, flowpacks, stand-up pouches, sealed-rim pouches, etc.) in different sizes or bottles in different shapes. The AI’s tolerance is conceived to accept variable sizes, materials, surfaces or thicknesses within a product group. As a result, virtually no teach-in or start-up process is required. Once commissioned, the Schubert cobots immediately get to work – at top performance. This is how they handle pick & place applications with a variety of lightweight products at up to 90 cycles per minute. Only the tool has to be matched to the product. To this end, Schubert provides its customers with a wide range of individually designed robot tools, some of which they can even produce themselves using 3D printing.
The electronic components as well as the 3D image processing, which thanks to AI gets by with a standard 2D camera, are fully integrated into the system.
High-performance infeed of packaging components
Schubert designed a filling line for natural cosmetics manufacturer Börlind, the feeding of which is handled by three tog.519 cobots, two of which are in action at the cosmetics line at this year’s interpack. In the machine, glass jars, glass bottles or plastic bottles are filled with cosmetics and sealed with different pump systems and lids. The cobots pick up the unsorted packaging components or, alternatively, sorted carton trays and place them into the line’s infeed. They can handle all packaging parts without requiring any programming or start-up phase. In combination with the packaging line, this enables a fully automated and extremely flexible packaging process for cosmetic products – a huge step towards efficiency and cost-effectiveness for manufacturers.
On the Börlind filling line, the cobot takes glass bottles from a cardboard tray and places them into the line’s infeed.