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Stacking milk crates on pallets in cold storage warehouse

How a KUKA robot takes the strain off humans working in icy conditions


When food company Albertsons approached KUKA System Partner Integrated Packaging Machinery (IPM) to automate its dairy line, it quickly became clear: a robot had to be part of the solution. Stacking milk crates on pallets in the cold storage warehouse is simply not feasible for humans in the long run. Since then, a KUKA robot has been stacking the milk crates in the cold storage warehouse.  

KUKA Robot iis an deal fit for the refrigerated, frozen food, and beverage markets. 

Palletising solution for cold environment

“It’s very cold in the refrigerator, and the work is back-breaking,” explains IPM's Vice President of Operations Kendal Malstrom. “The cases are just too heavy for someone to be in there palletizing all day long.” That's exactly why IPM chose a robot-based solution to automate Albertsons' dairy line. 

For more than two decades, IPM has been manufacturing and integrating packaging solutions for customers in the U.S. and abroad, and as a KUKA Systems Partner, combines continuous innovation with years of experience to deliver systems that work. "KUKA is proud to count IPM as a member of its system partner network," said Tim Schiller, Account Manager for KUKA Robotics USA, who has worked with the West Michigan company for many years.


It’s very cold in the refrigerator, and the work is back-breaking and the cases are just too heavy for someone to be in there palletizing all day long.

Kendal Malstrom, IPM Vice President of Operations

A palletizing robot for the food industry, even when it gets icy

As a KUKA systems partner, IPM had access to the robot needed for the job and the expertise to incorporate it into an effective robotic palletizing system. "KUKA is the only company that has a robot designed for frozen palletizing that can reach the speeds required by Albertsons and has the necessary reach and payload," Malstrom says. It also provides the agility needed to handle Albertsons' four different carton lines.

A KUKA robot stacks milk crates in a cold storage warehouse at the Albertsons food company

Fast palletizing in a little place

Malstrom says, "KUKA robots are specifically designed for demanding palletizing and depalletizing tasks that require very short cycle times. They also require very little space, so Albertsons was able to maintain production within its existing production area." IPM opted for a KR QUANTEC PA Arctic robot, which palletizes accurately and quickly even at temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, and does not require a protective cover or mechanical heating. 

Strong partnership between KUKA and its system partner IPM   

West Michigan-based Integrated Packaging Machinery (IPM) specializes in fully integrated packaging lines. For more than 20 years, IPM has designed, built, installed and managed automated packaging solutions for the dairy, food and beverage industries.

With more than 100 employees tackling more than 75 projects annually, IPM sees itself as much more than a supplier of packaging equipment. The company takes a fresh approach to providing packaging machinery solutions, working closely with its customers for "installations that work." IPM offers palletizing robots, pallet conveyors, inspection and integration systems, and case packing solutions.

By cultivating long-standing relationships with industry-leading companies such as KUKA, IPM has established itself as both an expert integrator and manufacturer of packaging equipment. The company also offers turnkey project services that include equipment layout and design, technical consulting, project management and installation of custom packaging systems. And one of these projects, which IPM's Vice President of Operations Kendal Malstrom highlighted in particular, is precisely that of the Albertsons grocery chain.

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