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It’s all in the mix: KUKA palletizer for beverages 

In the Pepsi – Jordan ICE warehouse, a KUKA KR 700 PA stands at the center of palletizing operations. It stacks soft drinks of different shapes and sizes on the same pallet. Its long reach combined with optimal cycle times, enormously boosts productivity in the beverage manufacturer’s warehouse.

High speed, fewer errors

Fully automatic mixed palletizing is considered the ultimate challenge for palletizing robots.  A KUKA robot masters this task with flying colors at the Pepsi subsidiary in Jordan, part of the beverage manufacturer's global sales of over $70 billion USD in 2020. For five years now, the KR 700 PA has ensured that supermarkets and other stores quickly and reliably receive the selection of soft drinks they require — bottle after bottle, can after can, layer after layer. “Using the robot, we boosted productivity while significantly reducing the error rate caused by manual intervention,” said Bechara Nassar, Sales Manager of Technica International SAL, the Lebanese automation and robotics solutions provider that installed the palletizing system at Pepsi.
Fully automatic palletizing for the beverage industry: at Jordan ICE, everything revolves around the KR 700 PA

KR 700 PA: the heart of the beverage palletizing system

Everything revolves around the KR 700 PA, while the robot itself revolves around the packages to be palletized. It stands in the middle of a hall, surrounded by five to six pallets of various bottles and cans already packed into small packages. Pepsi carries more than 500 product variants of its 23 brands, including Lipton, 7UP and Pepsi itself – in a variety of different sizes. This is a challenge for any robot that must grip the packages and place them precisely. First, a forklift truck brings the pallets with the beverages to the robot station, as well as empty pallets and the necessary slipsheets.
The KUKA robot even impresses when palletizing beverages in confined spaces

Mixed palletizing of beverages – challenge mastered

Then the process gets underway. After placing an empty pallet on the loading station, the KR 700 PA grips a layer of beverages with its gripper arm and lifts them onto it. It then uses a vacuum function to pick up a slipsheet and place it on the beverages, and then picks up the next layer, with the heaviest beverages on the bottom and lighter ones further up. This process has optimized the work sequence between the warehouse and the palletizing system at Pepsi in Jordan. Once the robot has finished doing its part, the pallets are transported away on a conveyor belt and finally taken to the truck loading area.
The palletizing robot stacks layer by layer – individually tailored to the specific customer. Now the pallet is ready for collection
Palletizer for beverages: The KR 700 PA from KUKA is the first choice for system integrator Technica International SAL

Precise, fast, powerful

The KR 700 PA has a payload capacity of up to 700 kgmore than 2,100 0.33 liter beverage cans. Even with its maximum payload, the KR 700 PA works precisely and quickly, managing up to 4 work cycles per minute thanks to its powerful motors – all following a precise plan. As Bechara Nassar explained, “Different types of beverages are stacked on the pallets according to a predefined system. The customer defines the sequence for each layer and for each pallet via the software.” This offers enormous advantages, particularly for the retail trade: the pallets can be configured individually according to the specific requirements of a store. This makes it easier, for example, to restock the shelves on site.
What would you like? The customer can use the software to customize the pallet configuration

From a manual system to beverage palletizing

Until 2016, numerous employees in the Pepsi Jordan warehouse manually performed the task that the robot now automates. The customer wanted automation to relieve the burden on the people who had to carry out this heavy physical work. “Automation was the only way to make the process as effective as possible. And KUKA had the most suitable robot for us,” said Bechara Nassar, explaining the choice of the KR 700 PA.

Pepsi also wanted the automation system to use as little space as possible. With its reach of up to 3.3 m, combined with its compact design, the KR 700 PA was thus well suited to the warehouse of the beverage manufacturer.

The KR 700 PA masters fully automatic mixed palletizing precisely and quickly

First collaboration with KUKA

This installation marked the first time that the team from Technica International SAL worked with KUKA – and they were highly satisfied. “KUKA provided optimal on-site support to our engineers during integration of the robot,” said Bechara Nassar. The company has offered automation solutions since 1982 and is considered a pioneer for robotic systems in the Middle East and the Gulf region. Technica plans to expand this palletizing solution to other plants in various industries worldwide. Bechara Nassar noted that “We also want to add an extra step to the system and offer our customers a Tetris palletizing solution. In this way, different types and sizes of beverages could even be stacked within the same layer.” The biggest challenge here: each layer must reach the same height so the next one can stack on top. The software also can calculate and plan this precisely in advance.

We wanted to make the palletizing system for beverages as efficient as possible – in very limited space. For us, the KR 700 PA is most ideally suited for this.

Bechara Nassar, Sales Manager at Technica International SAL

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