Responding to the need for more efficient ancillary equipment in manufacturing plants Pacepacker Services has designed a new tray denester to help fresh produce and food manufacturers overcome production bottlenecks during the packing process.
The recent surge in robotic uptake within food packing halls has resulted in improved line efficiency and speed. However, this can mean that other parts of packing process may struggle to match the pace, leading to production bottlenecks. One example is the speed at which retail trays are fed to the line and robot. To address this, Pacepacker’s new automated tray denester delivers up to 30 trays per minute to the conveyor.
Richard Gladwin, Technical Director at Pacepacker, explains the logic behind the tray denester: “Introducing the tray denester has allowed us to ‘plug the gap’ in the production line and enabled us to offer one complete automated solution as a single provider – without relying on third parties for ancillary equipment.”
The tray denester is completely flexible, in that it can handle trays irrespective of size and height. “Although they all look the same, the construction of trays varies so much,” explains Richard. “A programmable height is important to ensure the reliability in the separation of the trays, particularly at high speed.” Servo controls enable/facilitate easy tray separation and can handle different tray heights with ease. Trays enter the tray denester on a low level infeed conveyor and are ejected at the height of the packing conveyor. For added flexibility, trays can enter in any dimension – front, side, right or left. Even half or full size trays can be accommodated in one unit. The system can handle up to 120kg, with a varied stack height (dependent on tray weight) and deliver up to 30 trays per minute to the conveyor.
In production facilities, up to five stacks of full-size trays can be piled and pushed individually from the pallet onto a roller conveyor. The trays travel along to the tray denester and the first stack is raised so that the bottom tray is level with the outfeed conveyor. The main servo-driven mechanism of the denester grips the next tray up, while clamps hold the bottom tray. Using spring-loaded plungers, the self-adjusting gripping system ensures the slot pattern at the top of any tray always engages, irrespective of dimensions.
The mechanism lifts up the whole stack, minus the tray that’s clamped underneath, to a pre-set height and the bottom tray is ejected from the machine in any required direction. Finally, the stack is lowered down, the arms release and move up one tray, grip and lift again in a continuous motion. Each tray is then individually ejected into the pick and place cell to be loaded.
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