Automated Cartoning System

Automation technologies can help simplify the most complex packaging operation, saving installation time, cutting costs and minimising floorspace. In this project our client, one of the world’s largest medical device outsource manufacturers, required a fully automated linear packaging system that would utilise the flexibility of a six axis KUKA KR3 robot to incorporate multiple operations and increase product cycle time.

The Challenge

Prior to our involvement in this project our client was working between a manually and semi-automated process to pack, label and inspect their product range. The current process was labour intensive and inefficient in regards to material and product flow. In addition, all processes were taking place inside a cleanroom environment which posed a risk of contamination when transferring cartons into the room and packing the product.

There were a number of different systems that were required to work in sync with each other in order to achieve the desired outcome. This included box picking, erecting, loading, folding, labelling, weighing and inspection. The customers’ expectations for the machine function were as follows:

  • A flat box to be picked from a loaded magazine.
  • The box was then required to be erected/formed without damage.
  • The system was then to be loaded with the customer product, closed, labelled (3 types) and then record packaging data.

Their key objectives were:

  • To reduce labour costs through automation.
  • Reduce overall cycle time and increase output.
  • Transfer product while maintaining environmental conditions.
  • Ability to handle a wide product range.
  • Required to fit a specific footprint in order to minimise space requirements on the production floor.

Our Approach

Including our R&D department early on in the project to de-risk the major systems proved key to the success of this design. The team followed a unique design process which involved developing multiple revisions of the design and adding extra supports for the box forming which enabled them to achieve repeatable quality results. A prototype cell was developed to simulate the real in-machine environment that a robot would operate in. Further adjustments and improvements to the original design verified the use and suitability of a KUKA KR3 robot to erect a flat box (of various sizes), label and place it in the packaging/closing area.

The Result

  • A compact system capable of complex movement & high-precision repeatability.
  • Productivity increased to a throughput cycle time of 12 seconds, resulting in shorter leads times to shipment.
  • Ability to adapt to 5 different product variants allowing for the introduction of future products.
  • Efficient system taking up minimal floorspace which easily integrated into our clients existing system.

All our solutions are tailored to our customers specific production requirements and manufactured to the highest quality. For a full portfolio of our standard offerings review our comprehensive Process Catalogue.