Global supplier and manufacturer doubles productivity with Combi’s automated robotic packaging solutions
The Client / Product
Cantel produces cold sterilants and cleaning mechanisms for endoscopy scopes.
The company had utilized a Combi hand pack ErgoPack® for approximately 25 years to package sterilants. With growth of the company, and so many products and SKUs, the move to automation made sense.
“We’re packaging bottles, spray triggers and often adding partitions to separate products,” says Trevor Knight, Medical Operations Engineering Manager in Solutions, Filtration and Maintenance at Cantel. “Most of the bottles weigh 8 – 9 pounds each, so completed boxes could weigh up to 50 pounds total. Some pack patterns require us to run boxed products through and add different products to get the right mix for the customer.”
Combi built Cantel a customized automated end-of-line packaging system that erects, packs product, inserts partitions and seals.
- The new system allows the operator to select up to 99 different recipes on the HMI (human machine interface). This allowed Cantel to go from 7 – 8 people on the line to 4, and the operator can manage productivity instead of lifting heavy boxes and continually making manual adjustments.
- Tooling changeovers are another critical improvement with the new system. When the operator selects a new recipe, the robot goes back to the docking station and replaces the end-of-arm tool for the new product to be boxed. RFID tags verify the correct head is in use.
- When different bottle configurations require manual adjustments to guiderails, a light acknowledgement system guides these them easily, decreasing the time required for changeovers.
- A robot also handles a variety of other functions such as turning the bottles when necessary to position different shape bottles side-by-side, rather than in a row, so the robot can easily pick and pack them. Another robotic program inserts corrugated cardboard into boxes to separate product.
Cantel’s investment in automation paid off – productivity has more than doubled. The new system allows them to run products often more than twice as fast and with less need for operator input.
In addition to a reduction in human error, the robots easily handle the heavy products and boxes. The new system also saves an immense amount of time, since the end-of-arm tool typically would be changed manually with bolt and screws.