Find out how ATS reduced labour costs by 75% and waste rates by 65% at this biscuit manufacturer.

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 their 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

High Rates of Sickness
Too many manual tasks that are stressful and repetitive

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 motion and servo equipment 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, the high level of sick leave it created and for its contribution to waste rates of more than 30%.

    However, finding an automated solution came with its own challenges. First of all it had to have the flexibility to cope with 120 combinations of biscuit and skillet. It then had to balance the requirements of high-speed operation (1,450 picks per minute) with product integrity.

    Challenges of Upgrading
    Automation Kit

    The customer had wanted to upgrade their legacy and obsolete motion and servo systems 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 120 operators and engineers as well as providing an ongoing on-site support package. The solution involved the following key items:

    · Integration of 16 Delta Robots, utilizing Codian Vision Systems and Kinetix 5500 Servo Amplifiers, for high-speed pick and place operations.

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

    · Calculation and implementation of Kinematic transforms and advanced algorithms.

    · Review and update of full recipe, SCADA and reporting.

    The Results

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

    75%

    Reduction in
    Labour Costs

    65%

    Reduction in
    Waste Rate

    1,450

    Picks per
    Minute Rate

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