Pakfish, began operations in Darłowo in 2005, and moved to nearby Rusko in 2016. The Rusko plant now processes approximately 80 tons of fresh fish each day to ensure a supply of fresh fish during months when catches of specific species are limited. Pakfish's storage of frozen raw fish serves major fish processors – especially companies that make canned food.
“We’re simply short on personnel, and this is hard work that required automation,” said Jacek Skotarski, Pakfish production manager.
“Our daily output is approximately 80 tons of frozen fish. We need these fish crates to be placed on pallets and someone has to do it. Moving 80 tons of fish daily, even divided among four people, is a lot,” Skotarski stressed.
Automation of palletizing fish crates using a robot
To optimize production, Pakfish cooperates closely with Stawiany, a Polish company that develops custom machines for the food industry. Run by Ireneusz Stawiany and his son, Jakub, Stawiany provides smoking chambers, filleting and slicing machines, and other proprietary equipment designs. The Pakfish board asked Stawlany to design and install a complete line to palletize fish crates.
“We have worked with Stawiany for ages, and their machines and ideas have proven invaluable. They persuaded us to opt for KUKA robots – and it was a very good decision,” said Jacek Skotarski.
Keeping the pace of work and higher stacks of crates
The main challenge of this automation project was to match the robot’s operating speed to the fast pace of the fish dispensing device.
“We could not slow down the fish dispensing process, so the robot must process two crates at a time to keep up. The essential element was the time available to transfer and then place a predefined weight. The crates are relatively soft and cannot be squeezed too tightly. At the same time, the space for gripping is limited because there are fish everywhere,” said Jakub Stawlany. “Selection of the correct gripper was the main challenge. The gripper’s design had been improved a while back. We also needed to prevent the fish from moving throughout the transfer – primarily during the robot's acceleration, as this would create difficulties during freezing. The fish must be distributed evenly so they fit in the freezing racks.”
Automation in the food industry with KUKA
For years, process automation with industrial robots has been one of the main trends in the food industry, with proven, hygienic KUKA robots
used at every stage of the production chain in companies around the world.