TM Robotics and Danish integrator BILA have installed two Shibaura Machine SR-854HSP SCARAs on a new shrimp processing line in Northern Denmark. The SCARAs save space, reduce operating costs and represent a flexible solution that could be re-deployed elsewhere in the plant if required. Previously, the process was completed manually.

Three types of flavoured shrimp are produced in separate 100g plastic containers. As the different containers travel down their respective lines, they are transferred by one of the Shibaura Machine SCARA robots onto a single line.

From this line, the second SCARA picks up the containers and transfers them to a box, which is then wrapped and palletised by a further robot, ready for distribution. The system packs 200 pieces per minute.

In order to keep its products price competitive, the shrimp producer is committed to automating as much of its processing as possible. The robots on the shrimp line are expected to cut manpower requirements by two thirds, with initial trials suggesting that the new factory will produce the same annual output as the company’s previous facility. However, it will only require six operators to handle the entire processing operation, as opposed to the 18 previously required.

“Advancing technology has broken down the size barrier that stood in the way of integrating robots into packaging lines,” said Nigel Smith, MD of TM Robotics. “Robots with the speed required for the food industry can now be supplied with footprints smaller than a piece of A4 paper!”

“However, it is the mental barrier which should be the first to be overcome,” continued Smith. “As a regular visitor to food manufacturing plants I frequently talk to plant managers that are nervous about applying automation. As an industrial community, we have to take the mental step forward and begin to view robots as an essential component in a manufacturing line.”

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