Improving Operations Through New Packaging Technology

Jason Hogue
Southeast Regional Sales Manager
BluePrint Automation (BPA)

What are the latest robotics innovations in the following areas?

Pick and Place
BPA has been using a pick and place not only to case pack, but also to erect cases from a flat stack.  One benefit of this is the ability to automate case blank loading of the erector with our KD distribution system.

Robots that can be moved by hand to a teachable position provide an advantage when creating new product recipes.  This speeds up and simplifies that process.  BPA’s Spider 200i does just that boasting new recipe creation in a short time period.

End of Arm Tooling
A company that is on the leading edge of EOAT technology is Soft Robotics.  They make a gripper EOAT that is great for picking fragile products.  BPA integrates them frequently.

Space Saving Designs
BPA’s integrated case packer, erector, and sealer for both RSC and reusable cases saves space vs tradition decupled systems.  These units can fit on 9’ centers and still allow plenty of aisle room.

How do these innovations help improve bakery/snack plant operations in both primary and secondary packaging applications?

The innovations mentioned above increase the efficiency of packaging operations in both primary and secondary applications.  Better robots that are smaller and easier to use pave the way for more automation and increased efficiency.

Are most robots self-monitoring? Can they analyze errors and provide troubleshooting tips? What is vision-guide robotics? Are 3D cameras the next innovation?

Self-monitoring robots and automated equipment in general is a relatively new trend that customers are asking for more and more.  It is not practical to need an engineering degree to operate a machine.  A machine manufacturer should be committed to making equipment that provides useful and intuitive feedback to operators. 

Vision guided robots use cameras to take photos of products.  This photo, along with encoders, allow for very accurate position and orientation recognition. 

3D cameras are great for recognizing product position and orientation and are not affected by dirt and debris on the belt surface like traditional 2D system.  However, a 2D system is still required for inspection applications like detecting a color or hue.

What are some challenges in designing robotics for a food plants?

The biggest challenge is fitting all required systems in a smaller and smaller footprint while still allowing access for maintenance.

What is your opinion on cobots collaboratively working with humans in a shared workspace?

Cobots currently are great for slow and light weight products.  However, technology will advance fast.  If we are close to safe, self-driving cars, I’m sure cobots with speed and power are not far away.

What robotics equipment­­­­­­­­­­­­ has your company recently introduced?

BPA’s latest two systems are the Spider 200i and Spider 300v.  The Spider 200i provides case erecting, packing, and sealing in a compact footprint while our Spider 300v can run both vertical and horizontal pack patterns in an open flow system that doesn’t jam.

Back to the overview