Blink and you'll miss them04/05/2012
Robot loading 32,000 blinis!
That’s how many of those delicious little pancakes are packed every hour by the Marel IPL Robot system at the Blini factory which is located just outside the historic city of Caen, Normandy, France.
With demand growing steadily at around 3% p.a., the successful Blini company – a member of the Labeyrie Fine Foods co-operative – recognised some time ago that increased automation was essential for continuing sales growth and market share.
Julien Heillaut is the Industrial manager responsible for the plant and its performance and, having known Marel from the fish industry, was confident that the IPL Robot he’d seen at the 2010 CFIA exhibition would provide the much needed boost to the increased production volumes and packing efficiencies he was seeking.
Julien’s objective was to load cocktail sized blinis, each weighing 9g, into a thermoformer with each pack containing 12, 16 or 20 pieces, arranged as 4 stacks in each pack.
After cooking and cooling, the blinis are conveyed to the 3 head IPL Robot. The position of each one is detected by the vision system at the infeed, then each robot head individually picks 4 blinis and loads them into the thermoformer. When each pack contains the required number of blinis, the thermoformer is automatically given the signal to index.
Julien says, “the IPL Robot was delivered on time and was in production by day two of the installation.” The IPL has met his expectations, packing 32,000 blinis/hour and saving 5 operators per shift. In peak periods this represents a saving of 15 operators/day. The company employs 135 people which increases to 300 during peak periods such as Christmas.
This outstanding performance contributes in no small part to the success of the parent Labeyrie organisation whose 11 factories based in France, Italy and the UK manufacture fine foods including caviar, foie gras, salmon, shrimp, cod, herring, frozen cakes and, of course, our little friends, the blinis.
Payback for the line will, to quote Julien, ‘be as budgeted’ and it should come as no surprise to learn that Marel now has a developing relationship with the company with potential for further applications.