Switchback Group (PACK EXPO Booth S-563) may not be a household name –
yet. But their approach to integrated, robot-enabled packaging systems
delivers just what the market is asking for.
Switchback’s David Shepherd has assembled, through acquisition, a
lineup that includes tray formers, erectors, closers, cartoners, sleeve
wrappers, labelers, case packers, tapers and gluers. They’re focusing
their attention right now on robotics in an important market segment:
handling and packing poly bagged foods and other products.Everything depends on the infeed
Whether you’re cartoning or case packing, you always collate products,”
says chief engineer John Zweigle. “Everything is about the infeed of
product. Only now it’s robotic.
“It can be stand-up pouches, cartons or bags. It could be shingling or
a matrix of bottles that requires rotation for orientation. You could
be collating for multiple pack patterns, layers or packing bags on
end. Everything depends on the infeed.”Enter the ‘packaging systems provider’
Switchback handles what it calls ‘soft integration,’ which means all
the transfers and manipulations from product assembly through primary
and secondary packaging. That includes the conveying and the HMI
integration of the process.
It is also means robotic handling, which provides greater flexibility,
simplified mechanics and faster changeovers compared to conventional
‘hard’ or fixed automation.
Switchback is what a new ARC study calls ‘packaging systems providers’
rather than traditional, narrowly defined OEM machine builders. ARC
recommends that packagers seek out this capability.Robotic capabilities
Switchback’s latest development is an extremely compact delta 2 robot
case packer that debuts at PACK EXPO. It’s initially targeted at
handling flexible packages, so the show machine uses dual durometer
vacuum grippers. But it can be equipped with mechanical tooling as
well, for specialized tasks such as grippers for jars and pneumatic
cylinder equipped tooling for gabletop cartons.
The new robot runs up to 45 cycles per minute or up to 55 lb.
payloads. It can be fitted with a variety of infeeds and side guides.
Changeover is menu driven from the digital controller, so takes only 3
to 4 minutes. Options include quick-change tooling, and all Switchback
tooling is ergonomically designed.Partnering with Schneider Electric, ELAU Packaging Solutions
To rapidly develop a robotic orienting and case packing solution
customized to Switchback’s focus, they partnered with Schneider
Electric and ELAU Packaging Solutions (PACK EXPO Booth E-6413).
First, ELAU offers ready-to-run delta robot arms and a robotic library
with software objects that automatically perform all the kinematic
transformations needed to program robotic motion. This means that
Switchback engineers could concentrate on their own areas of expertise
and still deliver an uncompromising robotic solution..
It is true robotic motion, calculating the smoothest, most direct and
fastest path. The arm does not move from point to point, so the
robotic motion is never jerky. Software automatically prevents
accelerations from generating too much g-force and dislodging product
from the gripper.
Schneider’s Magelis HMI is integrated with ELAU’s purpose-built
packaging automation system, supporting the ‘soft’ integration
deliverable. Schneider also delivers the practical advantages of a
single source for the complete electrical solution, from safety to
sensors to VFDs and I/O.About Switchback Group
Switchback Group offers some of the most innovative and flexible End
Load Cartoners and Case Packing equipment on the market. End Load
machinery includes Automatic, Semi-Automatic, Intermittent Motion,
Sleever and Hand Load style Cartoners. Wraparound, End Load and Robotic
Top Load Case Packers are offered for packaging product into corrugated
cases. Whatever the application in chipboard and corrugated, Switchback
Group will offer a solution.
www.switchbackgroup.comAbout ELAU packaging solutions
ELAU, Schneider Electric’s packaging specialist, equips over $1 billion
worth of packaging machines annually. Currently, over 40,000
purpose-built ELAU packaging automation systems are deployed in
Through ELAU, Schneider Electric is the only controls supplier with a
dedicated business unit focused exclusively on the automation of
The market demands packaging operations that are more flexible,
efficient and sustainable to fulfill marketing, supply chain and global
business strategies. ELAU innovations have enabled a revolution in
mechanical, software and hardware modularity to deliver these agile
For more information, visit www.elau.com
or email [email protected]