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Cadbury’s Sheffield benefits from faster, more accurate palletising with ABB robots

Cadbury’s Sheffield factory is benefiting from faster, more accurate palletising following the introduction of a £1.2 million palletising system implemented by CKF Systems Ltd, one of ABB’s strategic industrial partners. The system sees the introduction of three ABB IRB 660 robots, all controlled by ABB’s dedicated palletising programme, PickMaster 5.

The new system incorporates three independent robot-palletising cells, each comprised of an ABB IRB660 robot complete with vacuum gripper. The new system handles up to 22 cases per minute and incorporates a pallet handling system including pallet dispensers and high speed stretch wrappers. Each robot station offers multiple line feeds which collect products from 3 separate conveyors. The robots also have the ability to handle three separate pallet sizes.

The three ABB 660 robots are capable of handling up to 250 kilograms each resulting in a multiple box pick up to reduce cycle times and to maximise throughput. The four-axis design comes with a reach of 3.15 meters and is ideal for palletising bags, boxes, crates, bottles and more.

ABB’s PickMaster 5 palletising software also contains all the features necessary to create a robust palletising application that offers flexibility in generous measure for the shop floor. The software is designed to enable the complete project to be configured offline using a graphical user interface without the need for extensive programming and enabling easy changes in production.

"The IRB 660 robot offers Cadbury’s fast, flexible palletising capabilities that can handle multiple product lines in different pallet formats with ease" says Ian Schofield, Product Manager for ABB’s robotics business. "The robots give Cadbury’s a versatile handling system that can be easily re-programmed to meet the needs of just about every palletising application."

Cadbury’s new system was commissioned and installed over a 12-week period with a loss of only 12 hours production time. Since being installed, the department has experienced a 22-week period of high levels of productivity and service levels above 99.5%.

The new robot system also helps reduce Cadbury’s carbon footprint by increasing the pallet stacking height to 1.7 metres, resulting in more products stacked on one pallet. Adding more products to a pallet means that a greater volume of stock can be delivered using fewer vehicles and warehouse space is better utilised.

"Without a doubt, this has changed the face of Sheffield’s packing hall" says Michelle Fitton, Manufacturing Manager for Cadbury’s Gums & Liquorice Division, "It has made us more cost effective, has further improved our high standards of safety, and is enabling the team to work more collaboratively than ever before. Not to forget playing our part in improving the environment by reducing the number of vehicles delivering our products each year".

"The new robot palletising system offers Cadbury’s the ability to process more products than before while providing the company with a more efficient palletising system complete with the latest technology from CKF and ABB" said Kevin Staines, Sales Director for CKF Systems. "The system provides Cadburys with a multi-platform conveyor and palletising system which has vastly improved productivity at the plant."

Gloucester based CKF provides conveyors and automated conveyor systems specifically designed for the food and pharmaceuticals industries. Its systems range from stainless steel conveyor belts to fully integrated turnkey operations, complete with the latest robotic technology.

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