Robotic Partition Inserter

Partition Insertion for Cases of Wine Bottles

Project Overview

This award-winning winery was looking for a replacement partition inserting solution. Constant mechanical issues and cumbersome changeovers left their traditional mechanical inserter inoperable, and a secondary inserter was damaging their products. Having already established a positive relationship by successfully installing a Robotic Partition Inserter (RPI), the customer returned to Pearson to request a small footprint solution that could support increased rates and a variety of case sizes with minimal maintenance requirements.

Objective 1: Increased rates with a smaller footprint

  • The customer desired a smaller solution that was flexible enough to adapt to expanding product types and growth rates
  • Current insertion rates were limited to only 18 partitions per minute (ppm) because the traditional mechanical inserter was nonfunctional—the customer’s attempts at substituting with manual partition inserting was not sustainable from a cost and speed perspective

Pearson Solutions

  • Three FANUC M-10iA/12S RPIs shared the product workload, achieving insertion rates of 54 ppm
  • With necessary safety guarding, Pearson’s solution was not only more functional, but also occupied a smaller space compared to the mechanical partition inserter

Objective 2: Greater reliability, consistency and reduced product damage

  • The traditional mechanical partition inserter was inoperable due to constant mechanical issues and complex, time-consuming changeovers, forcing the customer to resort to costly manual labor
  • Consistent insertion comparable to manual partition packing was needed in order to maintain quality control standards
  • An industry trend toward thinner glass bottles made the stop-start motion of the existing RPI’s conveyor unfeasible, as it caused the products to collide and break

Pearson Solutions

  • Pearson uses FANUC robots, providing a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of 80-100,000 hours, with fewer mechanical parts susceptible to wear or malfunction
  • Positive vacuum suction and the articulated motion of the robots was leveraged to “peel” knockdown partitions from the magazine and maneuver fluidly into tight cases without being damaged, while a robotic tamper presses partitions below the flap score line to avoid interference when closing flaps of regular slotted carton (RSC)
  • Continuous motion conveying facilitated smooth case transport and reduced downtime due to damaged products, and line tracking ensured accurate partition placement

Objective 3: Flexibility and simplified changeovers

  • The proposed line solution needed to accommodate a wide range of case and bottle sizes, pack patterns, and insertion rates on a single line while minimizing downtime from changeovers

Pearson Solutions

  • Pleased with the short changeover process on the previous Pearson RPI, the customer elected for our custom end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) that includes adjustable fingers designed to accommodate varying partition types and case depths

Sequence of Operations

RSCs are transported into the case infeed using continuous motion side belt case conveying.

6-cell or 12-cell chipboard partitions are loaded upright, narrow side leading into three dual-motorized partition magazines. Three FANUC M-10iA/12S RPIs are fitted with adjustable fingers and programmed with articulated motion to “peel” partition blanks from the stack. The partitions are opened with controlled arm rotation.

As cases enter the packing station, the robots use line tracking to gauge the orientation and position of each case. The partition is inserted in an angled motion that reduces the risk of partition damage due to folding or bending. A single LRMate 200iD robot, also equipped with line tracking, tamps the partition below the flap score line.

The cases with partitions exit the line, and the cycle repeats.