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A case Study Of a Food Processing Company that uses Collaborative Robots

Atria Scandinavia

Atria Scandinavia is one of northern Europe’s leading processor of vegetarian and gourmet products for convenience markets and retail chains that are in need of round the clock service

At one of the company’s four factories, Skene, in western Sweden, many of the plant’s 30 employees are currently working side by side with three collaborative robot arms from Universal Robots.

The importance of Cobots in their production process

Every day, shrimps, olives, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and other specialties are marked with labels, packed and palletized at Atria Scandinavia. This process has now been optimized with collaborative robot arms enabling each production line to prepare on average of 228 items per hour for delivery. The payback period on the robots is just one year.

Their goal is to get reliable product lines where they can produce efficiently and effectively while keeping their staffing costs down. As a food producer, it is extremely important for them to minimize downtime, in order to supply fresh goods at a competitive price.

The UR robots are a great automation solution, because they can run without safety fencing. It is a significant advantage that their employees can work right next to the robots and that they easily can adjust the collaborative robots when packing different types of products.

The benefits enjoyed as a result of adopting cobot use 

For Atria workers, it has been a real eye-opener that collaborative robots are so simple to use. The industrial robots for sale  at Universal Robots were purchased by Atria from the local UR distributor Edstrøm’s which offered them introduction and training lessons of using the cobots. But even before the training had started, Atria’s technical department had already begun to use the robots even managing to build the first installation of two UR5 robots and one UR10 robot.

The management was very impressed that the UR robots were so easy to operate and unlike other robot brands, the cobots from Universal Robots are also very logical and intuitive to work with.

The Danish developed cobots have now become a natural tool in all the production activities at Atria. The easy programming and operation features of the robots saves them a lot of time when changing from different tasks such as; from packaging shrimps to packaging olives which previously took six hours to convert the production process, but now the change-overs happen in just 20 minutes.

It also simplifies the deployment of the robots such that they can now build solutions for their production in-house. Atria can go back and forth between their workshop and the production lines by refining applications as they continuously build them. For instance, they developed a small wheel to fold the edges of the cardboard boxes where the food products are packaged in. This solution probably would not have been conceived if they had been sitting in front of a computer planning the robot application.

Thanks to the collaborative robots, the company continues to optimize material usage in their packaging department thus reducing carton waste by 25 percent ever since the first three cobots were implemented.

After realizing that the traditional automation technology is very bulky and expensive, the management at Atria decided to get rid of the traditional, shielded industrial robot and a bulky packaging machine that occupied half of the total space on the packaging floor. Instead, they will automate all of their packaging lines with flexible UR robots working unshielded side by side with employees.

The installation of the first two robots from Universal Robots took two months but their next robot installation will happen faster since they are now familiar with the UR robots and they also know how to easily integrate them. We can therefore predict that it will not take them more than two weeks to get the next ones up and running.