A radical departure from conventional end-of-line case packing machines, Versapack has beaten off competition from traditional robots to automate end-of-line packaging at apetito.
Frozen food manufacturer apetito chose the Versapack from Quin Systems Ltd to automate its two desserts hand packing lines because it delivers outstanding return on investment. It is simple to operate and set up for different products and case sizes. It’s also faster, more compact and has lower operating costs and maintenance requirements than conventional robotics solutions.
Trowbridge-based apetito are facing tough economic conditions. In the drive to improve competitiveness and efficiency, they needed to automate two hand-packing lines, the company’s first venture into automated packing.
Mike Webb, MD of Quin Systems Ltd was delighted that apetito chose the Versapack over the competition. “It was a demanding application, but we knew that our equipment was up to the challenge and would prove to be a better solution than traditional robots,” he explains.
“We wanted to show them how good the Versapack is, so within a week we had a demonstration project running with dummy product and actual cases. After a further demonstration to apetito’s full board of directors we were awarded the contract.”
With a packaging head based upon the Quin Rtheta™ technology, Versapack readily achieves 70 pick and place cycles / minute, putting it far ahead of filling machines or packaging machinery in conventional solutions. Plus, the 1.8m square footprint is compact enough to fit easily into existing hand-packing space. The customer’s specification for each line was 84 packs a minute which equates to just 14 pick and place cycles per minute, well within the capabilities of the Versapack.
The installation of the Versapack involved far less structural work than would have been necessary with conventional robots and operator training was considerably simpler. The Versapack is also versatile enough to allow apetito to change product, packing format or cases, should this need arise in the future.
Success and the future
Over the last 9 months the new Versapack packing lines have met all expectations and apetito are very pleased with the installation. Further improvements in line efficiencies have been identified for the future and there are plans to extend automation to the other meal packing lines with more Versapack machines.
This next phase will benefit further from experience gained with the desserts. For example, it is likely to include more comprehensive line monitoring, fault and alarm logging, reduced maintenance costs and lower downtime.