‘Bottle down!’ Gebo Cermex debuts robotic removal system


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Gebo Cermex debuted its SecurFlow robotic removal system at Pack Expo 2014 this week
Gebo Cermex debuted its SecurFlow robotic removal system at Pack Expo 2014 this week

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Gebo Cermex has launched a robotic removal system for fallen bottles at Pack Expo that it claims stop line disruption caused by increasingly unstable, lightweight primary packaging.

As seen on the show floor, the SecurFlow system incorporates a six-axis poly-articulated robot with a customized gripping tool – supplied by Fanuc, which counts Gebo Cermex as a systems integrator.

The patent-pending system is capable of identifying and removing fallen bottles in the middle of product flows (after they have been filled and capped) and Gebo Cermex claims 99.5% efficiency at speeds of up to 130,000 bottles/hour.

Gebo Cermex head of robotics and innovations, Franck Klotz, told that the system suits unstable glass/PET bottles, jars and even cans that are lightweight or that have complex shapes.

‘One client had a lot of fallen bottles’: Franck Klotz, Gebo Cermex

He explained that the plug-and-play system can be quickly installed on 90% of standard bottling lines on any type of accumulation conveyor, and promised a quick ROI compared to the cost of completely re-engineering conveying systems.

Klotz said the trend towards lighter, more slimline PET bottles with a higher center of gravity means that they fall over more easily on conveyers, laning/dividing or during accumulation phases, as well as just in front of the overwrapping machine.

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“Over the time the client uses less and less plastic to save cost – petrol and PET. We had one client that had a lot of fallen bottles – whatever they did with the conveyer there were always too many fallen bottles,”​ Klotz said.

"So we were at a point where we had to innovate and bring this machine to market, with advanced detection technology…It can detect the fallen bottle, pick it up and remove it,”​ he added.

Potential in PET, glass, even cans…

Bottles can either be thrown into a bill or set upright again by the robot; while the same problem doesn’t affect PET bottles prior to filling (when air conveyers are used), Klotz said the system could be used for empty glass bottles prior to and post soaking, and again for full glass bottles prior to pasteurization, or even palletising.

He said that prior to this machine launch, fallen bottles on the line meant costly machine downtime, as well as unnecessary use of staff time if operators are forced to stop lines because of fallen bottles prior to the shrink wrapping stage.

“A shrink wrapper cannot cope with fallen bottles at the infeed, so the operator has to remove these, reset and restart the line. With this system just in front of the wrapping machine you save a lot of operator time and improve line efficiency,”​ Klotz said.

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