Material Handling Automation

  • March 01, 2011
  • Feature
Automated Guided Vehicles Highlight ProMat 2011
By Thomas R. Cutler
March, 2011
The largest material handling event of the year will take place later this month in Chicago, ProMat 2011. New automation solutions will be on display. Perhaps the automation solutions for material handling in the food sector carries the most unique requirements for palletizing robots, stretch wrapping equipment, labeling systems, pallet control systems and laser-guided automatic vehicles.
Software must include automation for scheduling, routing, monitoring and visualization of the complete end-of-line process. The food sector's special requirements for hygiene, safety, and data tracking is a leading consideration of technology system designs for food safety and quality.
With North American offices based in Skokie, Illinois, Elettric 80, is positioned as a leading catalyst in business excellence for beverage and consumer packaged goods companies. Recently the firm shared the newly developed specialized palletizing robot Dragon for Beverage. The system has the ability to switch between handling cans, bottles, and packages of different kinds and sizes, without any mechanical adjustments. Changeover between different products is quick and easy, as is maintenance and cleaning due to innovative construction. Specifically, the small footprint and high precision in placement are key elements of best-in-practice solutions. Simplified cleaning solutions require fewer interruptions and drive considerably shorter time parameters than traditional palletizing.
  Robotic considerations for the food and beverage industry include:
  • Flexibility on pallet patters due to robot preparation.
  • Product change over without mechanical adjustments
  • Minimum footprint in relation to capacity, flexibility, and accessibility
  • High precision and quality in product placement on the pallet
  • Reduced Maintenance
  • State-of-the-art technology allowing fast remote diagnostics, software updates, and troubleshooting
Marco Majoli, the After Sales Manager for Elettric 80 emphasized, “Automation and storage handling challenges are changing quickly for many businesses. The desire to increase storage capabilities or production levels, can change from the time AGVs are implemented, even a few months earlier. The continuous process improvement for operational efficiencies, flexibility in production cycles, and regulatory safety standards, require an on-going and close working relationship between an AGV company and a leading food or beverage manufacturer or distributor.”
  The Business Challenge
Far beyond palletizing robots, the automation and storage handling challenges facing businesses always boils down to the desire to increase storage capabilities and production levels. The drive to improve operational efficiencies is part of lean manufacturing and distribution and operational efficiencies. The need for flexibility to accommodate changes in the production cycles along with the constant requirement to achieve higher safety standards drives the push for plant modernization.
  Stretch Wrapping Robots
Stretch wrapping robots, like the Silkworm series, can be extended and complimented to reach a capacity of 180 pallets per hour. The ability to verify the unique pallet stability ensured by these wrappers is partially due to maximum pre-stretching.
The stretch wrapping considerations include:
  • Increasing the wrapping quality
  • Dramatic reduction of film breaks at high speeds with the use of high film thickness
  • Greater Load stability
  • Film savings (pre-stretch wrap saves more than 300%)
  • Machine modularity and flexible configuration
  • Automatic change-over of the wrapping head
  • Reduced maintenance
  • Product change-over without any mechanical adjustments
  • State-of-the-art technology, allowing fast remote diagnostics, software updates, and troubleshooting.

Author Profile:

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc, ( Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of four thousand journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler can be contacted directly at

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