Lan Handling is an expert in designing and integrating fully automated chicken, fish and meat packing lines. There is great variation in the required capacities, packaging and available space in a factory. But one thing is always the same: we use a lot of robotics. This brings advantages and challenges. How do we handle it?! Lead Engineer Software Floris Ramaekers explains.
When commissioning new packing lines in refrigerated rooms, you will notice it yourself: at an ambient temperature of between 1 and 4 degrees you get cold after a while. Logically, the same also applies to the robots that we use. The viscosity of the gearboxes increases, causing the engine to spin harder and think there is an obstacle. With all the negative consequences that entails.
To prevent this, we at Lan Handling program a kind of ‘warming-up’ as standard for every production run. And we also ensure that the robot remains in motion in the event of a standstill during the product supply or during a product change. This works very efficiently.Discover our expertise in the meat, fish and poultry industry
In the preliminary phase, our sales colleagues coordinate the desired speeds with the customer and we test these capacity requirements, so that we can clearly say: we can handle it. As soon as we arrive on location with the software team for the first tests, we check closely whether the product presentation is guaranteed. Sometimes this means that we need a few hours per product to find the desired production flow. If we have the right balance between speed and performance, that also brings audible peace to a factory.
A product flow of 120 units per minute is very fast. Because at Lan Handling we first preform the flowpacks, topseal or skinpack products in our robot cells into a ready-to-pick layer, we load the products into a crate or box at a slightly slower pace. The result: the top seal is not completely covered by the marinade of your pork chop.Learn more about the technique of our case packer
Lan Handling’s automation solutions are characterized by the flexibility of the application. A good example of this is the project we did at Hoogvliet. There we run various product types on one line and pack them in various crates. This provides a multitude of product programs that you can set via the HMI.
To prevent operators from being confronted with a list of 120 different programs, we are making the software increasingly configurable. For example, we are working with the setting of a limited number of individual parameters: the product, the product carrier, the quantity and the type of pallet determine what is handled and how by an automatic packing line from Lan.Learn more about our project at Hoogvliet
The success of End-of-Line automation depends on several factors, but smooth up- and downstream interfaces play a crucial role. Because we carry out dozens of projects per year, we have extensive experience in connecting our handling systems to packaging machines from Mondini, Sealpack or Multivac, among others. But also think of AGV systems. This standard way of working is a real benefit for our customers.
In addition, we integrate effortlessly with higher-level MES and ERP systems. And we think along with our customers about the secure access to data via OPC. The latter is a nice development in our ‘Industry 4.0’ approach that we are currently shaping together with our customers: making machine performance data available and accessible to make predictions.
As a software engineer I look forward to the moment of commissioning on location. Then you see the new ideas and improvements come to life for the first time. When I see that we run a user-friendly and future-proof line with our software, which is often abstract in the first phases of a project, then our work is successful.
Finally: we only leave when our customer is 100% satisfied. And that always means we see a factory full of running Lan Handling systems! Whether that is in New Zealand or Zaandam, it remains just as beautiful.
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