Efficient logistics in the beverage and food industry

Securing transport without loss of time and damage: Automated palletizing system with optimized stretch wrapping technology reduces film use by up to 55 percent. Software enables different pallet formats and remote maintenance via R-Connect.

Robopac: Efficient logistics in the beverage and food industry
© AETNA Deutschland GmbH. Palletizing a wide variety of goods and different pallet formats is a daily challenge for companies. To remedy this, Robopac has developed the Palwrapp palletizer.
Source:  Company news

Millions of companies face the same challenge every day: goods such as food and beverages have to be carefully palletized and wrapped. Only high precision in this process can ensure that the pallets remain stable throughout the entire transport route and are then stored safely. In addition, the stretch film should be correctly dimensioned: If it is wrapped incorrectly, the goods may fall off the pallet or be damaged by film that is wrapped too tightly. The cost of the film material should also not be underestimated. The Palwrapp from Robopac provides a remedy: The optionally semi- or fully-automatic system arranges products at a height of up to 2.7 m on the most common pallet formats and then wraps them. The proven Cube technology is used here, which ensures maximum load stability with economical use of the film during stretch wrapping. With its compact dimensions, the Palwrapp can even be used in locations with little available space, such as in small and very small businesses.

The use of pallets has revolutionized global trade and logistics: Some 450 to 500 million standardized Euro pallets alone are in circulation worldwide, according to the European Pallet Association e.V., standardizing the transport of goods. "When it comes to the correct arrangement of cartons or cans, just a few millimeters decide on the stability of the entire pallet and thus whether the goods arrive undamaged at their destination," explains Kerstin Conzelmann, Marketing Manager at Robopac Germany. "To avoid high costs, for example if the products are damaged, companies must therefore proceed with special care." However, several problems arise in the process: On the one hand, the logistics industry is increasingly under time pressure, so that the individual process steps, such as palletizing, have to be carried out almost every minute. On the other hand, there are globally established standard formats such as (half) Euro or CHEP pallets. But how and at what height the food or beverages are layered is determined individually for each pallet - there is no "patent recipe" that applies equally to all goods.

"Companies then have two options: Either workers take over palletizing by hand, or they acquire a palletizing machine that performs this process independently and in a calculated manner," Conzelmann says. "However, while manual palletizing is highly error-prone and also poses a high risk of accidents for employees, palletizing robots are usually inflexible and can only be adjusted to different goods and pallet sizes to a limited extent. A lot of time is therefore lost with both approaches." Space requirements also play an important role, because fully and semi-automatic systems for palletizing usually take up a relatively large amount of space and can only be integrated into logistics at great expense. The reason for this is expensive warehousing, which is why space must be used as efficiently as possible and there is little room left for larger systems.

Cube technology enables film savings of up to 55 percent

Flexibility, minimum space requirements and simple operation - these are the requirements that a palletizing solution should meet. The Palwrapp from Robopac meets these requirements. The palletizer, which can operate either semi-automatically or fully automatically, first sorts the goods to be stacked, such as cartons or crates, which are fed to the system on a conveyor, according to a specific pattern. This ensures that the goods are distributed stably on the pallet. The exact arrangement and number of layers can be defined in the Palwrapp's software. Up to 350 kg can also be stacked per layer.

After all goods have been palletized, fully automatic wrapping takes place. "The Palwrapp is equipped with the proven Cube technology," reports Conzelmann. "This ensures that the amount of film and the force with which the film is wrapped around the goods are precisely matched to the pallet. So for more delicate goods such as fruit and vegetable boxes, the Palwrapp applies less force than for less delicate goods such as canned goods." Even for each individual layer stacked on the pallet, the amount of force can be adjusted individually. In this way, the technology used ensures, on the one hand, a particularly high level of stability so that the goods cannot suddenly topple over during transport. On the other hand, it prevents the goods from being damaged if the film is wrapped too tightly. The Palwrapp also reduces the amount of material required, as the particularly efficient wrapping technology allows between 30 and 55 percent of the film to be saved, thus significantly reducing material costs.

Compact design enables operation even in narrow logistics halls

The Palwrapp also offers advantages over other palletizing solutions in terms of space requirements: the system requires an area of 7,416 x 5,155 mm in the fully automatic version and 4,095 x 2,535 mm in the semi-automatic version - which means that an area of less than 10m2 is needed. The maximum height depends on the module selected, with two different versions available at 1,750 and 1,400 mm respectively. Commissioning is also particularly easy thanks to the plug-and-play principle. The Palwrapp also features a 10.1-inch touchscreen display. Various settings, such as the arrangement of the goods or the number of layers, can be made via the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and the integrated software. It can also be used to easily create new positioning patterns, for example, to efficiently palletize and stretch-wrap even half Euro pallets or pallets with dimensions of 1,200 x 1,200 mm. The software has been especially designed for user-friendliness and intuitive operation; the machine can be operated by workers without programming knowledge. This makes the Palwrapp particularly flexible, so that a wide variety of palletizing tasks can be handled without loss of time.

All moving parts have been equipped with servo motors, so that the system operates almost wear-free and guarantees long service lives. At the same time, energy consumption is at a particularly low level. Thanks to the user-friendly operator interface, it is also possible to monitor the operation of the machine. The HMI is equipped with three safety levels to protect personnel from injury. In addition, the display can be used to show malfunctions and alarms, as well as to call up statistics. Robopac Germany also offers remote maintenance in case of queries or problems, which is carried out via the proven R-Connect system. In this way, it is possible to reduce downtime to a minimum and a technician does not have to visit to carry out repairs or maintenance work. "The Palwrapp thus combines all of Robopac's technologies to simplify pallet handling," explains Conzelmann. "In this way, companies save time and money while using less energy and materials, and ensure that their goods are transported safely."

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