ATS delivers robotic packaging solution for Fox’s biscuits in the UK

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Find out how ATS helped Fox’s biscuits to reduce manufacturing cost by 30% and drive automation

The Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry is entering an exciting phase with sustainability, flexibility, and machine analytics gaining significance for every aspect of the FMCG value chain. So how do you keep up?

This biscuit manufacturer had already started its digital transformation journey with automation at several points of the production process. However, machines age and they needed to upgrade their legacy motion systems while also identifying further locations that would benefit from automation. That’s when they approached ATS.

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The Problem

Manual tasks and the “black box” nature of the customer’s unsupported legacy automation kits presented a number of opportunities for improvement.

Excessive Waste
Manual tasks and sub-optimal automation producing >30% waste

High Labour Costs
Labour intensive activities in a competitive marketplace

Insufficient Machine Information
Engineering and production layers lack factory floor visibility

Poor Flexibility
Equipment lacks flexibility required for modern batch production

Get in touch with the Robotics Experts at ATS



    Collaborative Problem Solving

    As with all ATS projects, the solution was arrived at through a collaborative partnership with the customer. It began with a full survey of existing operations to discover the areas where changes would have the biggest impact and fastest Return on Investment.

    The areas eventually targeted for improvement were the legacy equipment and technology in the packaging section and the manual pick and place operations.

    Challenges of Automating
    Pick and Place

    This labour intensive activity was an obvious choice due to its cost, and for its contribution to waste rates of more than 20%.

    However, finding an automated solution came with its own challenges. First of all it had to have the flexibility to cope with different biscuit variants. It then had to balance the requirements of high-speed operation (3,000 picks per minute) with product integrity.

    Challenges of upgrading packaging line automation

    Fox’s biscuits wanted to upgrade their legacy and obsolete equipment and packaging technology for a long time but had delayed due to a number of roadblocks that ATS needed to overcome:

    · Lack of in-house expertise.

    · Production downtime associated with upgrades.

    · Risk of losing accuracy in controls and motion.

    · Cost of direct replacement.

    · Lack of documentation and software back-up.

    · Over-dependence on vendors for proprietary systems.

    The Solution

    ATS not only designed and implemented the solution, but also provided training for operators and engineers as well as providing an ongoing on-site support package. The solution involved the following key items:

    · Project risk assessments, design and development of a full functional robotics and automation solution with safety features.

    · 3 Kawasaki 6-axis robots with payloads of 100 kg and 3 second cycle time.

    · Turnkey automation solution comprised of 8 Rockwell PLCs, 6 Pilz Safety PLCs, 10 HMIs and 44 servo motors.

    · Design of and implementation of individual cells with integrated Safe Torque Off (STO) safety by ATS’ in-house TuV safety engineers.

    The Results

    Thanks to the close working relationship between Fox’s Biscuits and ATS, the successful design and implementation of the solution quickly led to the following results:

    30%

    Manufacturing
    Cost Reduction

    20%

    Waste
    Reduction

    3,000

    Biscuits
    per
    Minute 

    Are you carrying out a digital transformation at your plant? How can we help?



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