Whether it's Santas, bunnies or delicate bars: Chocolate is poured into a wide variety of shapes. Each season, manufacturers must therefore be able to flexibly adapt their packaging processes. Solutions such as Syntegon's robotic pick-and-place platform (RPP) deliver on this flexibility and can be individually configured – an advantage that a US-based chocolate manufacturer is benefiting from: Their packaging line works with a high-performance Syntegon system consisting of two packaging legs, each with an RPP feedplacer robotic cell and a Sigpack HRM flow wrapper.
The US manufacturer was looking for equipment that could be flexibly adapted to different product shapes, handle the glossy chocolate surface very gently, offer a high degree of automation and short changeover times. The solution: a packaging system consisting of two packaging legs, each with a Syntegon RPP feedplacer robotic cell, a Sigpack FIT non-contact product feeder and a Sigpack HRM flow wrapper.
A seamless packaging system
Before individual chocolate products can be fed into line, they must first be cast in an upstream production process. To ensure optimum product quality, it is therefore important to consider the handling of the different molds along the line from the very beginning. This mindset was key for the US manufacturer: Depending on the design, its molds hold between 102 and 144 products – and Syntegon's experts took the handling of each of them into account when planning the packaging line.
The result is impressive, as the manufacturer benefits from a seamless process: As soon as the filled and cooled molds reach the RPP, the integrated Delta robots use vacuum end-of-arm tools to pick the chocolates from the molds and place them on the discharge conveyor that follows at a 90-degree angle. RPP's integrated product storage ensures a constant product flow without micro stops. The robots deposit one product row at a time and then seamlessly add it to the previous cycle. An underlying belt system transports the empty molds back to the cleaning station. The discharge conveyor then feeds the chocolates to the Sigpack FIT infeed module, which operates contactless, gently portions the sensitive products and feeds them into the Sigpack HRM flow wrapper. The latter packs the individual products using a cold-sealing process. The HRM is a high-performance machine with integrated automatic splicer. It processes up to 1088 products per minute in this application. In addition, printer modules and 3D scanners were added to the two lines for quality assurance.
Efficiency from A to Z
Thanks to a uniform system control and the same user interface, all line components communicate perfectly with each other. They work seamlessly as one machine, ensuring a constant product flow without downtime. The new Syntegon RPP feedplacer shows its strengths particularly in the feeding and handling of sensitive products: It avoids product loss and ensures efficiency gains. The robotic solution also offers advantages in terms of flexibility, as format changes are quick and easy: To switch from square chocolate bars to chocolate Santas, the operator only has to change the end-of-arm tools of the Delta robots. This reduces changeover time and maximizes uptime of the packaging system.
The line is capable to handle the customer's high product volumes effortlessly: Both the Syntegon RPP and the Sigpack HRM flow wrapper with FIT infeed work particularly reliably even at large volumes and ensure high overall equipment effectiveness. In addition, the packaging line impresses with its hygienic design. Thorough but simple cleaning processes are essential for avoiding contamination, for example with allergens, when producing different chocolate products. The Syntegon RPP control cabinets meet the requirements of protection class IP65, so the solution can optionally be equipped for wet cleaning processes.
With the fully automated packaging line and the multi-talented RPP, Syntegon demonstrated its application expertise for turnkey solutions: From the jointly created concept, the development, as well as the installation and commissioning of the system, to the training of operating personnel and subsequent service by the local service hub – the experts looked after the customer from A to Z to meet their specific requirements.
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