Systems integrator, Pacepacker Services has expanded its engineering team to meet an increasing demand for automated machines tailored to customer requirements.
The firm started with a team of four in 2004 and now has 15 men after hiring Lee Moss, electrical engineer and Andrew Westrop, mechanical design engineer, ahead of its food and packaging open day in June in Essex, UK.
FANUC and Festo robots
Paul Wilkinson, business development manager, Pacepacker Services, told FoodProductionDaily, guests can see six robots, including food grade systems, which will demonstrate product handling, assembly and packing.
It features robots from FANUC and Festo showcasing three robot types: Cartesian, delta-style and articulated arm.
The company also plans to launch a sack placer at the PPMA Processing and Packaging Machinery Exhibition, which can run at speeds of 15-20 bags per min, at the Birmingham NEC, from September 30-October 2.
“We are launching a sack placer at the PPMA show. It can handle net packs, hessian bags as well as paper or polythene and woven polypropylene bags,” said Wilkinson.
“It can work with agricultural produce such as potatoes, onions, carrots, animal feed or food ingredients but it won’t be market specific to one type of product.
“We have just taken on two new engineers to fulfil the level of orders we are receiving and expand our R&D projects. We have seen an increased level of work in making bespoke systems for customers.
“We need more engineers to change the machinery design to suit specific requirements, for example, food grade products are modified to remove ledges or any shelves or someone may want everything to be sealed. Our technology is tailored to suit client internal policies.
“We hope to expand more into pick and place, picking up a package and placing it into a retail tray or box for supermarkets, it involves quite a high level of tailoring to suit each product.”
Foder & Abel
Wilkinson said Pacepacker recently installed a sack packing and robotic palletising line at potato producer Foden & Abel which grows Challenger, Leonardo and Markies potatoes for fish and chip shops and wholesalers, after signing a deal with them at the LAMMA show for farm machinery, equipment and agriculture.
Prior to the installation, the West Midlands based firm was packing and palletising 25kg sacks of potatoes on a manual line operated by four people, which was very labour intensive.
It was packing six tonnes of potatoes per hour, which meant someone had to physically carry 40 sacks to each pallet.
Pacepacker installed a turnkey line, comprising a C21 sack placer, a fall and turn kicker, a Total Bag Control (TBC) system and a Blu-Robot palletiser.
Empty paper sacks are placed onto the sack clamp by the C21 sack placer, and the clamp holds the sack steady as it is filled with 25kg of potatoes. The TBC system then transfers the filled sack from the sack clamp to the stitcher.
To take the 100-year-old business forward, Foden & Abel is diversifying into packing root vegetables and onions for other farms, as well as offering temperature controlled storage facilities.
Its Blu-Robot is currently palletising seven sacks per minute, which equates to 10 tonnes per hour, and the process requires two operators. This compares to a previous output of six tonnes per hour, with four operators.
Whilst its own potatoes are sold in 25kg sacks, the Pacepacker line can accommodate a range of sack weights, from 2kg up to 50kg, and can handle sprouts, carrots and onions.
Once the contract packing service takes off, the company will upgrade to a double head weigher, which will give it a capacity of 12-13 tonnes per hour.
Pacepacker Services open day is on in June 17, at 9.30am and 1pm at its offices in Great Bardfield, Essex. Places need to be booked in advance.