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Case Farms Increases Fresh Chicken Production with Robotic Depalletizing, Palletizing, and Conveying Systems

POSTED 02/17/2022

Case Farms Increases Fresh Chicken Production with Robotic Depalletizing, Palletizing, and Conveying Systems

Customer Problem:

The customer was manually palletizing cases of fresh chicken after sending it to a remote site to be frozen for warehouse storage. In order to speed up the freezing process, special tier sheets were stacked between all layers of all products. The sheets had to be manually removed between layers – and sanitized – before the pallets could be manually palletized for distribution, resulting in excessive amounts of labor and cost.

The customer built a new facility to execute all processes internally. A solution was needed to move cases of fresh chicken from production to a Variable Retention Time (VRT) blast freezer, then to a palletizing system for warehouse distribution. Once frozen, cases need to be palletized and stretch wrapped for storage in a freezer warehouse or shipment. Product is also delivered from a remote site and needs to be sent through the same high-blast freezer to be palletized for future warehouse distribution.

Adaptec Solution:

Adaptec collaborated with numerous partners to design, build, and install a complete turnkey solution, moving product from production/de-palletizing, through the VRT, then to a palletizing system. The project consists of six case conveyor lines that feed the VRT freezer in addition to product conveyed from the de-palletizing cell. One case conveyor line comes out of the VRT to two palletizers. Bar code scanners are located at the infeed of all lines and at discharge to ensure bar code compliance and communicate information to the VRT.

The de-palletizing cell receives full pallets of fresh chicken from a remote facility. Unwrapped pallets are indexed into the cell through a set of safety light curtains. Once the load clears the curtains, another full pallet can be staged on the infeed conveyor. As the pallet load reaches the de-palletizing zone, a FANUC M-410iC/185 robot picks a layer of product with a vacuum end-of-arm tool and places it on a staging conveyor. The cases are oriented through a series of sortation conveyors to ensure labels are in the correct location for transportation into the VRT.

All products designated for robotic palletizing are transported onto the Hytrol Prosort MRT to be sorted to the appropriate palletizer lane. Product will be conveyed to a robot pick location where cases are strategically picked as required.

The pallet dispenser releases a pallet into the shuttle car conveyor, which then moves into position in front of the slip sheet dispenser. A slip sheet is placed on the pallet. The shuttle car will move to one of the 6 robot pallet lines and transport to the pallet line conveyor, repeating in a pattern that will keep all 6 lines populated with pallets.

The robot will pick cases or rows as needed and build pallets per the defined pallet stack pattern for each SKU. Full pallets will move down the conveyor to the Wulftec stretch wrapper to await forklift pick up.

Results:

  • The de-palletizing cell operates at 20 cases per minute.
  • The palletizing system is designed to handle 4 SKUs at any time. Rate of product out of the freezer is 72 cases per 115 seconds. The cell is a dual 4-in, 4-out system with a lane dedicated for manual pallet stacking for product that will have volume suitable for manual palletizing.
  • The stretch wrapper wraps 100 loads per hour.

Products Used:

Palletizing:

  • SpanTech conveyor (add how many feet?)
  • Hytrol ProSort MRT conveyor
  • Hytrol roller bed conveyor
  • Hytrol 24-volt accumulation conveyor
  • Hytrol sortation Gapper-D conveyor

De-Palletizing:

  • FANUC M-410iC/185 robot
  • Schmalz vacuum EOAT
  • 3-strand full pallet conveyor (brand)