Bread Handling System

Minimising packaging and shelf space within supermarket environments can dictate how food manufacturers package their products for shipping to these outlets. SP Automation & Robotics built a bread handling systems to package wrapped loaves into baskets to allow the product to be safely and economically transported to the supermarkets.

The Challenge

The requirement was to produce a system that would cater for the infeed of loaves of bread from a production line. An infeed conveyor would feed the loaves in a single file. The machine was required to cater for loaves that were out of line and also inspect for “open “ bags.

 

  • Ability to cater for varying loaf sizes
  • Package loaves at a rate of 30 per minute
  • Minimise compression of loafs
  • Inspect for open bags
  • Have the ability to place the loaves in configurable patterns
  • To cater for a variety of product sizes
  • Automatically reject detected defects
  • Designed to operate in a food grade environment

The Solution

 

Loaves were fed into the machine in a single file, and transferred onto the machine input conveyor. At the junction of the two conveyors, looking downwards, a line scan vision system with high intensity LED Backlight that was used to create a silhouette of the passing loaves.

 

The vision system scanned the loaf as it passed to determine its position and orientation. Two 6-axis robots mounted centrally above each end of the loaf conveyor then used the information given by the vision system to track the loaves to allow the robot to pick them up from the moving conveyor. The robot then transferred the loaf into a basket at an angle of 30°. The scanning of the loaf also looked for open bags, and the overall size of the loaf to ensure it was the correct product. If a defect was detected, it was allowed to carry on down the conveyor to a collection bin.

 

Bespoke servo grippers were designed to cater for variation, limit damage and to handle different sizes of loaves.

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