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Brillopak’s fresh produce packing robot wins innovation award

21 October 2019

Brillopak’s UniPAKer crate loading robot for fresh produce factories has won the PPMA Innovative Robotics Solution 2019 award, beating nine other processing and packaging OEM finalists.

The eight independent judges summarised their decision: “Brillopak’s UniPAKer fresh produce robot is a stand-out performer within its category. Incorporating a four-arm delta robot, it significantly increases productivity, while improving pick and pack presentation in crates to reduce waste. The robot’s highly innovative glove gripper makes for the damage-free handling of food items to help showcase automation at its best.”

The system has been specifically designed to improve pack presentation in retailer crates and handle products carefully to prevent bruising. It will consistently load up to 75 packs per minute in VFFS, tray sealed and flow wrapped format and is ideal for vegetables, fruits and salad up to 1kg. As highlighted by the judges, the UniPaker’s innovative patented ‘glove’ end-effector has been designed with soft fingers, four on each side, and scoops-up the product and places it in the crate. Conventionally this is done by a steel gripper which is prone to splitting the bag and bruising the product.

Recently installed at three Morrisons fresh produce sites, Rushden site manager Andy Day comments: “Brillopak’s UniPAKer just keeps going! Loading with dexterity, tilting and placing packs individually at speeds that a layer packing robot couldn’t contend with. It’s an extremely clever piece of kit.” 

The UniPAKer has met Morrisons’ key business/project objectives: dramatically improve pack presentation in crates, reduce waste, eliminate line bottlenecks, reduce reliance on agency staff, improve workforce wellbeing and satisfaction. Head of Operations for Morrisons Manufacturing Jason Kelly: “The true measure of Brillopak’s solution has been the almost immediate improvements to our OEE. Brillopak clearly understands how critical production schedules are to getting fresh produce packed and looking good on retail shelves.” 

Brillopak Director David Jahn comments: “I’d like to thank Brillopak’s team of designers and engineers who pride themselves on attention to detail and are dedicated to building simple plug and play systems. I hope the UniPAKer will help more UK produce factories to successfully automate their end of line packing facilities.”

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