Ready meal case packing automation
An industry-leading ready meal manufacturer required an automated process to package their products ready for retail.
The customer approached Sewtec Automation to design a system to automate the process of packing ready meals into cases, ahead of being shipped to their retail customers.
The end of line packaging system had to accommodate multiple product types of varying sizes and quantities per case.
The system was required to integrate with the existing sleeving line, where cardboard sleeves are erected and placed over the ready meal trays.
Sewtec designed a solution that transfers the pre-packaged ready meals from the sleeving line through to the palletising system.
An existing vision system has been integrated with the new packaging system to auto-reject mislabelled ready meals.
The next module erects cardboard boxes, seals the underside flaps closed, and transfers them to the robotic top loading module. Here the ready meals are rotated 90° and loaded into the open boxes via pick and place robots. The ready meals are loaded four at a time, using suction cups.
Once filled, the cases are transferred through a case closing module, where the top flaps of the boxes are folded closed and sealed with hot melt glue.
The sealed cases are then transferred to the palletising system, where a six-axis robot picks two cases at a time and places onto pallets.
The palletising system also features automatic de-stacking of stacked pallets and automatic full pallet ejection.
The final packaging solution was able to process up to 80 ready meals per minute. The system was also designed to handle multiple variants of ready meals packaged in various size trays.
A second packaging line has since been installed at the customer site, increasing the efficiency and production rate.