Enabling further growth
Sunoko provides the market with sugar in various package sizes. These include packages of 750 g, 1 kg, 5 kg and 10 kg for household use as well as 25 and 50 kg packages – not to mention the jumbo sacks filled with of 1,000 kg or 1,200 kg of sugar. The company has registered strong growth in recent years. It was rather difficult for the production facilities – particularly the filling, packaging or palletizing processes – to keep pace with this development.
To ensure that this did not endanger growth, Sunoko contracted the integrator multi-tec to automate the 10/1 kg sugar packaging at the Kovačica plant. The goal: to expedite the output of sugar packages in order to be able to increase production volumes in the future as well. The packaged units – consisting of ten 1 kg packages wrapped in thermoplastic shrink film – are delivered on a roller conveyor system, stacked on Euro pallets and then film-wrapped for transport. In opting for automation, Sunoko was looking not only for a significant increase in productivity, but also a reduction in damage to packaging as well.
At the same time, the decision makers wanted to ensure maximum safety in the workplace. Multi-tec, based in the Serbian town of Temerin, specializes in the development and implementation of conveyor, packaging and palletizing systems for various branches of industry. The integrator possesses particularly strong expertise in palletizing projects. Their wealth of experience stretches from conventional palletizing to robot-based automation.
Flexibility required in a minimum of space
Due to on-site structural conditions, implementing the automation solution presented multi-tec with a several challenges. The filling systems for the 10/1 kg packages are located close to further filling installations, thus significantly confining the available operating space. Beyond this, the working areas were restricted by the fork lift truck routes. Multi-tec thus opted to use modern robots, whose flexibility allows for integration into already existing transport lines.
KUKA was first choice to help meet these challenges since the two companies had already worked together on a number of projects. The robots had to be positioned in such a way that they could easily access the pallet stack, the protective wrapper feeder and the stretch wrapping machines. Due to these special requirements, the robot type KUKA KR 120 R3200 PA was selected.
Capacity for further production increases
Since the commissioning of the robot-based automation, a conveyor transports the 10/1 kg packages to the workspace of the robots. These then lift the packages and stack them reliably on a Euro pallet. The robots then apply a protective foil between each layer to serve as a slipsheet. Here, pneumatic catchers specially developed by multi-tec are employed. In total, each pallet is loaded with 100 sugar packages weighing 10 kg each.
Each robot on the line handles 480 packages per hour. As a result, the two KUKA KR 120 R3200 PA robots package nearly 10 tonnes of sugar every hour – an amount that would be impossible using manpower alone. As soon as the pallets are fully loaded, the robots wrap them in protective film, and the pallets are then ready for onward transportation.