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Automation alliance scoops Food Processing Award

A three-way alliance between automation specialists Pacepacker Services, FANUC UK and Festo has scooped the coveted Robotics and Automation accolade at the 2014 Food Processing Magazine Awards.

Voted for by readers of the publication, the collaborative partnership between the three companies was highlighted as a real game changer for the food sector, giving manufacturers access to the widest choice of hygienic automation, product handling and packaging solutions in the market today. Plus, the trio have designed systems to address key obstacles including hygiene, dexterity, safety and flexibility, which were up until recently stalling robot adoption in food manufacturing.

Comprising 80+ robots, more than 20 end effectors and access to over 85 service consultants nationwide, the team can confidently stand by its claim that it will design and manufacture the most innovative solution that best suits each client’s food handling application and budget.

Commending the strength of this partnership and what this means for food manufacturers, editor of Food Processing Helen Bahia said: “As a result of the sheer breadth of solutions that Pacepacker, FANUC and Festo now provide, all business needs can be easily met by an experienced team.”

Among the many successes accomplished in the last 12-months, the partnership has removed one of the key barriers to automation adoption by food processors and packers – food safety. Most recently, FANUC launched an extensive range of IP69K and IP67K certified robots, which can handle unpackaged food produce, often in its raw state. On the conveyor side, Pacepacker has specified an innovative food-grade conveyor system for a new Cartesian pick and place robot solution. What’s more, many Festo product handling tools integrated into pick and place applications are available in food-grade IP69K plastics, providing assurance that individual Retailer Codes of Practice (COP) and the very latest hygiene and product line integrity requirements set out by the British Retail Consortium are being consistently met.

“Now that robots are more economical, IP69K certified, and offer proven output and energy efficiencies, the food sector especially is experiencing a rapid rise in robot adoption,” highlights Pacepacker’s managing director Dennis Allison. “Winning this Food Processing award shows what can be accomplished when three likeminded companies work together and how this fosters even greater innovation.”
In an interview with Michael Portillo at the recent PPMA show, Chris Sumner, managing director of FANUC UK echoed the significance of IP69K-rated robots. “ Completely sealed cells are tackling the concern of cleanliness and contamination in the food industry, especially in the handling of raw product,” Chris explains.

The three companies are especially proud of the reputation they are carving out in the food sector for solving specific client challenges that other system integrators may steer away from.

As testament to the partnership’s success, since the start of this year 75% of all enquiries received by Pacepacker requested a robot solution (compared to 35% in 2013) and over the last 6 months they have quoted 110+ robot food-orientated projects – up 50% on 2013 figures.

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