The beginning and end of this food plant’s palletizing problem is similar to the experience of the meat plant in Part 1 of Don’t Blame the Robot. The original supplier of a robotic palletizing system went out of business. The plant invited two other robotic integrators to service and troubleshoot the cell, but both were unable to determine the source of a 6-month long problem the plant was battling. The robot had a habit of dropping cases, and the plant was prepared to remove the system.

Brenton was referred to the plant for its deep robotic programming and packaging know-how. Two Brenton robotic specialists visited the plant and watched the robot and end-of-arm-tool (EOAT) run for a short time. They were quick to realize that the EOAT was missing check valves on the cups. These are especially important to have in place on cups that may not be positioned at the top of a case on some pack patterns. Otherwise without them, cases will fall.

When the plant ran a pack pattern programmed by the original supplier, every cup landed on a case, and the robot ran great. However, when the plant ran a new pack pattern that it added itself, cases dropped because not all cups were making contact with the cases.

The robot was cleared of all wrongdoing. The solution was a simple install of less than $60 worth of check valves on the tool’s cups. Now the plant’s new pack patterns stack up flawlessly.

Look back to Part 1, What’s Inside Counts, of Don’t Blame the Robot Series. In that case study a meat product producer uncovers an issue palletizing 40 lb. cases.

“Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach.”

― Roger Von Oech

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