6 September 2002

Industrial robots help pick and place boxes of spuds

NEED an automated way of handling boxes or bags of potatoes in the packing line?

Braintree-based Pacepacker has modified its M-410I robot so it can pick and place bags, boxes and trays on pallets and conveyor belts.

Built by Japanese maker Fanuc, the robot can also fill trays with punnets of potatoes or other produce – a task which is typically carried out manually, according to Pacepacker.

"The robot has received a lot of interest from the potato packing industry," says the companys John Lightbown. "Its extra versatility has enabled one packer in Kent to save the labour of four people and, as a result, achieve higher packing work rates."

Priced from £60,000, the M-410I robot isnt cheap, but Mr LightBown says the technology can pay for itself over a period of about two years by eliminating the labour costs of four people.

Handling outputs for 25kg bags are at speeds of up to 25/min – and the robot is designed to work with up to four in-coming conveyor belts.

Powered by a three-phase 10KW electricity supply and an air compressor, the M-410I can be re-programmed or repaired remotely using a modem in the event of a breakdown. &#42

Pacepacker has modified its Fanuc robot to handle bags, boxes and potato trays.