Ishida Europe Ltd. (UK) - Weighing and packing equipment specialist Ishida Europe has extended its range of solutions for poultry, meat and fish packaging with the addition to its equipment portfolio of a unique system that improves yields and efficiencies in the packing of fresh food pieces.
The new RobotGrader combines weighing and pick and place technologies to grade products of varying weight and pack them to a fixed weight straight into the tray. The system reduces giveaway to less than 1% per pack and can correctly place and orientate the pieces, at speeds of up to 320 pieces per minute,
By comparison, a manual operation can be extremely labour intensive with a single operator only able to pack 30 pieces/min, and where overfill can be anywhere from 5% to up to 20%.
The RobotGrader is weighing products on a belt weigher. The information is then fed into the system’s unique sorting algorithms that determine the robot’s selection of the pieces. The robot stores the information on a large number of weighed pieces and the system also optimises the number of trays within the reach of each robot, maximising availability from which to create each complete pack. The robot gripper has been specially designed to grasp each piece firmly but gently and to orientate it correctly in the trays, for example placing two chicken drumsticks in opposite directions.
Depending on the model, the RobotGrader can handle two, three or four different tray types at the same time. In addition, the system can identify and sort pieces whose weight is unsuitable for tray packing, and direct these to bulk bins (which are integrated into the RobotGrader) as well as freezers, slicers and marinating operations.
The RobotGrader’s space-efficient design with overhead-mounted robots, and the elimination of manual work stations, provide a compact overall footprint and an impressive Return on Floorspace (RoF). A hygienic construction, with all parts of open plastic or metal design, enables rapid and effective washdown. Easily-movable tray guides mean product changeovers are fast and simple.
The RobotGrader can also integrate easily with existing factory ERP and control systems.
“With modern processing lines able to operate at extremely high speeds, the filling of two or more pieces into fixed weight packs has been one area that has until now resisted efficient automation,” explains Ulrich Nielsen, Ishida Europe’s Director for Business Solutions.
“Using proven technology, the Robotgrader solves this problem to deliver near-continuous accurate process packing.” The RobotGrader can be incorporated into Ishida fresh food packing lines alongside other Ishida equipment, including X-ray systems, tray sealers, seal testers and checkweighers, to provide bespoke solutions, tailored to individual customer requirements.