Schubert develops innovative robot-assisted packaging line for candy manufacturer
Since 2015, Schubert also has a subsidiary in Charlotte, North Carolina. With a robot-assisted packaging line designed for the leading US candy manufacturer, ‘ Sweet Candy Company ‘, the team located on the American east coast has once again proven that customers on the other side of the Atlantic can also trust on Schubert’s high consulting competence and innovative spirit. The particularity of the new solution: the number of products per packaging can be adjusted while production is in progress.
A Schubert F4 robot places Sweet Candy Company chocolate bars filled with different fruit gelatin in a box.
Sweet Candy Company, an American candy manufacturer, is a fifth-generation family-owned business based in the heart of Salt Lake City, Utah. The company, also known as Sweet’s, distributes more than 250 high-quality confectionery products in bulk, bags and boxes nationally and internationally. Sweet’s turned to Schubert because one of their brand’s traditional products needed a new packaging solution. Chocolate bars filled with fruit jelly in various flavors have been produced for more than 90 years and demand continues to grow. Therefore, Sweet’s wanted greater production efficiency in the packaging process.
The new Pickerline with sixteen F4 robots from Schubert allows the confectionery
manufacturer to achieve the necessary increase in production efficiency.
This was intended to be achieved mainly by increasing the number of products per container. However, since the brand’s product is sold by weight of about 300 grams, the candy manufacturer needed a robot-assisted packaging line that could flexibly adjust the number of products per box. It was also important to Sweet’s that the new packaging line had a high level of mechanical stability. In addition, the candy manufacturer considered Schubert’s additional services, such as excellent customer service and thorough training, to be very important to ensure trouble-free production after commissioning of the new packaging machine.
The solution: packaging by weight using a Pick and Place machine
At Sweet Candy Company, Schubert experts initially encountered a semi-automatic packaging line that only processed around 50% of the products, the remaining part had to be packed by hand. So that the candy manufacturer could achieve the necessary increase in production efficiency, Schubert opted for a fully automatic Picker picking line with 16 F4 robots and the vision system; a highly efficient visual quality control system developed entirely by Schubert. In order to adjust the number of chocolate bars, between 32 and 34 per box, according to needs, Schubert also modified the packaging design. The new packaging houses two layers of product between which a waxed paper is placed. The trick to greater flexibility: with the new packaging, the bottom layer contains a fixed number of chocolate bars, while the top layer can be spontaneously adjusted by adding or decreasing 1 product during the ongoing production process. This only requires manual entry into the machine’s operator interface. In this way, Sweet’s can now also package chocolate bars fully automatically based on weight.
Unique in its kind: The “spontaneous” adjustment of the number of products,
which can be carried out during production by manually entering the desired change on the control panel.
Fully automatic packaging instead of manual work
Thanks to the use of the Schubert line, semi-automatic production is a thing of the past, since the new packaging process is carried out with the precision of a clock and fully automatically: after production, the chocolate bars are placed in the new packaging machine on a conveyor belt through an 860 mm wide cooling tunnel. At this point, the 16 F4 robots pre-group the chocolate bars into layers of 15 to 17 units. In parallel, the previously assembled boxes are transferred to a transport chain, where an F4 robot fills them with the first pre-grouped layer of chocolate bars. In the next step, another F4 robot places the wax paper on top of the first layer, after which the box continues to be filled with the remaining chocolate bars. Finally, a robot closes the boxes by placing the lids that have been prepared for this purpose.
An F4 robot places wax paper over each first layer of chocolate bars before placing the second layer.
Sweet Candy Company is more than satisfied with the fully automated global solution that consists of a Pickerline with integrated F4 robots, with the new packaging design that incorporates a waxed paper separator between the two layers of product and with the “spontaneous” adjustment of the number of products per box based on weight. Rick Kay, CEO of Sweet Candy Company, enthusiastically describes working together with Schubert: “The decision in favor of Schubert was obvious, and I don’t regret it one bit. “Our expectations have been completely met.”