As part of the overall cultured products expansion project, the company had installed in 2004 a new six-lane filler from Modern Packaging for 6 and 8 oz yogurt, with change-over to run 24 oz yogurt. Downstream of the filler was a new Spot-Pak® packer from Delkor Systems designed to pack both 6 and 8 oz cups in nine packs at 300 cups per minute, with change-over to package the 24 oz yogurt in six-count packs at 200 cups per minute. In addition to the new yogurt line, the palletizer would also be responsible for packaging the sour cream production from an older packaging line that included both 8 and 16 oz sizes at 150 cups per minute in a nine-count Spot-Pak package.
"We felt that due to the wide range of sizes, and the potential for future additional package sizes, a robot really offered the flexibility we needed, and it offered a good fit to the limited space in our palletizing area," Dostal says. "After looking at the various equipment options, we selected a Fanuc 410i robot from Delkor. We have a long history of working with Delkor, and in our opinion the company has an excellent engineering and service team for building and supporting robotics."
Dale Andersen, president of Delkor, says its location in Circle Pines, Minn., has aided robotics development.
"We are fortunate in Minnesota to have some of the best robotic technical colleges in the country," Andersen says. "For the past few years, whenever we added to our engineering or service team, we selected candidates from these programs. As a builder of Fanuc robotic systems, this level of technical expertise is really our competitive advantage."
The robotic palletizer was installed in February 2005, and according to Alan Schneider, Anderson Erickson's cultured products manager, the installation was "one of the best equipment installations we have had at the plant, and continues to perform with high efficiency.
"I do think that one of the aspects of this project that improved the installation is having the entire robotic cell along with all conveyors set-up and debugged at Delkor," Schneider says. "Like most dairy plants, we really don't have the luxury of much down-time when installing new equipment. In my opinion, testing and debugging a robotic system prior to installation is key to a smooth start-up. We had the opportunity to see the robot running all of our sizes at production speed at Delkor's factory in Minneapolis, prior to shipment."
"Overall this was a good project for Anderson Erickson Dairy" said Warren Erickson, senior v.p. and CFO at Anderson Erickson. "From my standpoint, I was particularly pleased that we were able to replace such a difficult job as manual palletizing with an effective automated solution. In the past, being posted at the palletizing station was the least liked job at the plant. In addition to the job being unpopular, it was also a job that was prone to repetitive motion injury, so having a robot do this function is a win-win for both the employees and management."
For more information about Delkor Systems Inc., and its patented packaging solutions visit www.delkorsystems.com or call 800/328-5558.