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New UniPAKer actions energy & ready meal waste

06 September 2021

At PPMA 2021, Brillopak will showcase its newest award-winning and affordable UniPAKer robotic crate packing platform, launching its most compact and energy-efficient system to-date.

By lowering compressed air consumption in the generation of vacuum by up to 45%, the overall carbon footprint of the system is significantly reduced. The single dual head crate packing cell simultaneously reduces supply chain waste by minimising damage to protective ready meal films

Taking the lead to reduce automation carbon emissions and meet the UK’s new 2050 Net Zero targets, Brillopak has re-engineered the UniPAKer’s compressed air pressure system and end-effector vacuum generators. Creating sustainable value across the entire packing cycle, by adopting this ‘whole system air flow approach’ and improved control and distribution of air, Brillopak reports a 10% reduction in power usage compared to previous models in the series.

Central to this upgrade, which features on all new UniPAKer systems and can be retrofitted onto existing UniPAKer cells, is the introduction of vacuum generators into the end-effector head. Rather than sitting external to the end-effector, air is drawn into the centre of the head and fed to each of the five generators, all of which are contained within a special internal casing. Delivering more consistent, targeted and faster airflow. 

The small footprint single robot system is highly efficient at picking up and moving up to 70 chilled and ready meal products per minute. For example, two selection dips or two family-sized convenience meals. With the new dual-head patent pending end-effector design guaranteeing consistent lifting capacity when suctioning up and gently placing meals of various weight, size and packaging type into retail crates. 

“This gentle handling is especially imperative when handling thin films, pillow bags, resealable packs and newer more sustainable packaging substrates,” emphasises David Jahn, Director at Brillopak. 

Taking action against the nine million tonnes of food wasted annually in the UK – which alone accounts for 25 million tonnes of carbon emissions (the equivalent of ten million cars) – the next-generation UniPAKer also helps to address one of the biggest avoidable waste hotspots in ready meal production and distribution. Split top seal packaging and torn film lids.

“Spillages are one of the key causes of ready meal waste. On high speed side or drop loading automated production lines, one broken seal on a ready meal has the potential to tip and cross contaminate an entire tray,” notes David. 

With a ten percent smaller footprint than earlier UniPAKer generations, one cell can handle multiple product types and place into crates in multiple patterns. 

Striking the optimum balance of fast acceleration and gentle pick and placement, the new UniPAKer is especially beneficial for crate loading perishable products which are more prone to leaks and damage, including meat, fish, ready meals and fresh produce. At PPMA 2021, Brillopak will showcase the single dual-arm delta robot picking up and placing ready meals into retail crates. Depending on applications, a single UniPAKer cell can be configured to incorporate up to three robot configurations working in unison.

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