Robot Dresspacks Help Enable High-Speed Pet Food Palletizing Application

For some customers looking to deploy automation technologies for challenging applications, seeing is believing. When a major North American pet food company was unconvinced that a 6-axis robot could handle a high-speed pet food palletizing task, automation integration company Applied Manufacturing Technologies had to show them firsthand it could be done.

Palletizing Pet Food Layers

With no previous experience with traditional 6-axis robots, the pet food company sought a greenfield automation installation as part of a new plant build. Up until the point of the factory acceptance test (FAT), in fact, there were many at the company who were not convinced the system could meet the volumes the company was looking to produce. To meet these needs and convince the customer, Applied Manufacturing Technologies specified and designed a novel system that creates layers of organized pet food that get stacked by the robot onto other layers on a pallet.

“Unlike a lot of traditional automation where items come in and stop for the robot to pick and place them, product is constantly moving and the system is arranging them into full layers that are moved by the robot’s vacuum gripper onto a pallet,” said Scott Kilpatrick, Vice President of Sales, Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT). “In addition, the system handles different-sized packages, from small single servings to large wholesale sizes, because the company didn’t want any changeover.”

Hands-On Dresspack Help

While robots may garner the most attention when it comes to automation systems like these, many other components and technologies are also working in tandem to reach the end goal. Understanding automation systems on a holistic level — and not just a component level — can help companies minimize dreaded downtime. For example, during initial tests of this system, AMT found that the dresspacks — the cable management systems that protect power and control systems — required some customization and hands-on work, which BizLink Robotic Solutions USA delivered.

“Oftentimes we tell our customers that the most reliable component in an automation system is the robot itself, and where you may encounter issues is with all of the different things that go onto the robot because it’s constantly moving, including pneumatic fittings, cables, or dresspacks,” said Kilpatrick. “In our experience, installing robot dresspacks is difficult and can become a long exercise in trial and error, potentially with some damage along the way, especially when a system is in the field.”

He added, “During our testing, BizLink got involved early on to ensure that everything was organized and operating properly.”

Two of the robots were fitted with an LSH 3 dresspack from BizLink, while the vacuum robot featured custom brackets and inserts to hold the corrugated tubing.

"As requirements changed, BizLink visited the AMT facility several times to address any concerns and implement necessary adjustments tailored to the specific application. By the time it was ready for SAT (site acceptance testing), the dresspacks ceased to be a concern for anyone," explained Dave Jack, Dresspack Department Manager at BizLink Robotic Solutions USA.

At the time of writing, the system moved into SAT, where it is only weeks away from running full production on the customer floor.

Learn more about complete dresspack systems. For questions on BizLink dresspacks, contact our sales team at bus_sales(ät)