Strong competition and falling margins are urging consumer goods manufacturers to make their packaging processes more efficient. The solution is usually automation. With the Schubert cobot, which is already ready for series production, such automation already takes place in the feeding of the packaging machine, in a highly flexible way and without any programming effort. At interpack 2023, the packaging machine manufacturer will present three cobots in action for the first time. One of them in the feeding of a filling machine for cosmetic products.
Until now, the automation processes of packaging food, confectionery, cosmetics and the like have been mainly limited to the packaging machine. Feeding, on the other hand, is usually done by hand, since the processes for placing the products from a box on a belt, separating them, orienting them correctly or classifying them, are very complex and, therefore, it is rarely economical to automate them. With the development of his cobot tog.519, the packaging machine manufacturer Schubert now has a new solution, very flexible and very easy to operate, which allows manufacturers of consumer goods to take a decisive step on this point.
The Schubert cobot is designed for high-performance Pick and Place applications with lightweight products: With up to 90 cycles per minute, the tog.519 picks up a large variety of products or packaging materials from the box or the conveyor belt and places them in any imaginable location, without the need for complex programming. It is only necessary that the right tool for the product is used. Benjamin Brand, head of sales and integration for Schubert’s Cobot team, explains: “We have built the vacuum unit of our tog.519 based on our proven F4 robots. Together with the individually designed robotic tools, some of them obtained by 3D printing, we can process a wide variety of products. These include unpackaged chocolates, as well as plastic components of a spray bottle. The whole Schubert Pick and Place experience flows into the Cobot.”
The basis of the ease of operation of the cobot is an artificial intelligence-assisted image processing system developed by Schubert. It recognizes the products when picking them up, as well as the environment in which they should be placed. The cobot’s neural network is so extensively trained that the robot can immediately process new products from the same product group. These are, for example, bags (sachets, flowpacks, stand-up bags, sealed edge bags, etc.) of different sizes or bottles of different shapes. The AI tolerance is designed to accept varying sizes, materials, surfaces or thicknesses within a product group. This means that practically no learning or commissioning process is required: Schubert’s Cobot goes into action as soon as it starts up.
Its integrated systems also make the cobot completely independent and therefore mobile. In this way, it can be used to fill automation gaps at different points of production that are constantly changing. It can be placed standing freely or in a protective cage. When it works independently, the tog.519 protects employees by slowing down if a person gets too close to them. Conversely: In a very tight production environment, the protective cage that is located around the Schubert cobot can guarantee that production is carried out at maximum cycle rate and without delays at all times. Even with the protective cage, the cobot remains flexible: the entire cage can be easily moved to another location with a forklift and then used via Plug and Play for other applications thanks to the fully integrated system components.
Its advantages make the cobot especially interesting for industries such as cosmetics, confectionery or food. After all, a high degree of flexibility and the ease of switching from one product to another are important criteria for manufacturers who act quickly on the market and have to permanently establish new formats. Schubert has trained the AI accordingly: including so far the following product groups: bags, lids, bombs and bottles, as well as chocolates and chocolate.
The possible applications are extensive and very diverse. For example, the tog.519 you can feed the supply chains of a bag forming, filling and sealing machine by extracting the products from a box, pick up bottles for a packaging machine from the conveyor belt and orient them correctly, pick up a large variety of fed products in disorder and fill them into boxes or even set up mixed packages. The image processing reliably detects even products that cross over each other; for example, pump sprayers with a hose. In the case of very narrow and untidy products, such as bags, which are accidentally in an upright position in a box and therefore cannot be picked up well, a vibrating unit rearranges the products between cycles and thus helps the cobot to find a bag that it can pick up in each cycle.
In addition to the application of a single tog.519, for example, to power a packaging machine, several robots can also be configured as a complete cobot line, which makes productions much more flexible in their packaging processes. This is useful, for example, for mixed packaging. The Cobot works not only with Schubert machines, but also with third-party lines and even with robots from other manufacturers. This versatility offers completely new possibilities for consumer goods manufacturers to automate their packaging processes in a very flexible way and raise their current productions to a new level. In practice, Schubert’s cobot is already proving its worth in the bakery and cosmetic industries. You will be able to see three tog.519 in action at the interpack trade fair in Düsseldorf, from 4 to 10 May 2023, at the Schubert stand, hall 14, stand D01.