Fully Collaborative Universal Robot Pick & Pack Solution
Based in Central Scotland, E&O Laboratories is the UK’s largest privately owned manufacturer of ready-to-use culture media. It operates two manufacturing facilities and employs over 100 staff. The company was looking for ways to increase output, whilst maintaining its existing headcount.
Following a meeting at the PPMA Event held in Birmingham, E&O’s Quality Director, Eddie Scott, engaged Olympus Technologies to create a bespoke solution to help drive continuous improvement within the production process.
E&O Laboratories wanted to continue its growth and sustain its market share. The company required a means of freeing up staff from having to carry out repetitive palletising tasks. It, therefore, sought a collaborative end-of-line solution that could slot seamlessly into its existing production process. The automated solution needed to be capable of managing three packing lines and increasing productivity and throughput. One of the barriers encountered by the company in the past was the need for the robotic solution to handle delicate and easily breakable items. They struggled to find a solution that could handle delicate sleeve-wrapped bio-culture packs, without damaging them. Ultimately, E&O Laboratories needed the automated solution to streamline and automate repetitive tasks, without taking up space on the production floor, the need for extensive safety fencing or complex operation training for staff.
Using a UR5e cobot and a standard vacuum gripper, Olympus Technologies designed a custom automated solution that could handle sleeve-wrapped bio-culture packs without damaging them. Due to the way the product is presented by E&O’s existing machinery, the cobot is programmed to turn over each batch of products, compress them and transfer them to a work-in-progress basket. Ready for when an employee next requires them.
Due to the cobot’s in-built safety features, the solution also obtained UKCA marking with no safety fencing required. This means employees can work in close proximity to the cobots, minimising the footprint of the new equipment.
UR cobots require minimal training and are adaptable enough to be reprogrammed and redeployed elsewhere in the production line, should the production needs change.
The UR5e cobot has delivered key benefits to E&O laboratories, including a more streamlined production process, increased adaptability and flexibility and a significant throughput increase. Furthermore, the solution occupies minimal space on the production floor and can be easily reprogrammed and redeployed. The new solution allows 3 packs a pick and 1 pick every 12 seconds, overall resulting in 15 packs a minute. All of this allowed E&O to become more flexible, adaptable and increased their competitiveness.