Adept Technology said it is combining its vision-guided packaging system, the Quattro, with four parallel robotic arms developed by Fundacion Fatronik, a privately funded European research company.
The demand for faster line speeds, lower labour costs and greater flexibility in handling multiple packaging formats has pushed the food industry toward greater automation. As part of that demand plants are deploying more robotic systems, mainly for the packaging end of the business.
The fusion of Adept's control systems and Fundacion's robotic arms creates an ultra-high speed packaging system that perform loading, kitting, cartoning and case packing, the companies claim.
The system has been designed to handle a range of products including cookies, confectionary, frozen food packets, baked goods, cosmetics, personal care products, medical devices, pharmaceutics products, and electronic components.
Fatronik has agreed to give the exclusive use of its technology to Adept, which is marketing the entire system under its brand name. Both companies are working on the commercialisation of the mechanism and merging components into the standard Adept control platform.
Adept intends to initially market the Quattro in its existing markets of the EU, the US, Canada and South East Asia. The company also hopes to use these products to partner with distribution in Japan, South Korea, Russia and Taiwan.
The company is now taking orders for delivery in the second quarter of 2007.
According to the ARC Advisory Group, there are over 250,000 food and pharmaceutical packaging lines in existence worldwide. Adept estimates the market for high speed packaging robots is between 1,000 to 1,500 robots or $50 to $100m per year.