Rethinking robotic case packing

To Switchback Group, its robot is the centerpiece of ‘soft integration’ between packaging processes on a line.

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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.”

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.

Switchback’s latest development is an extremely compact delta 2 robot case packer introduced at PACK EXPO.  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.

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).  This included resulted in a complete electrical bill of material, ready-to-run carbon fiber robot arm, robotic software library and purpose-built packaging automation system.

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