The new grippers save labor and have been designed for easy use. They are easy to clean and changing them is a quick job with no tools necessary. All grippers connect to the base in the same way and have a quick change adaptor. Changing grippers to handle a different product can be done simply by hand in less than a minute.
With supermarkets’ insistence on attractive presentations, tray styling is a hot topic among poultry processors. The new grippers are the perfect answer for fillets, drumsticks and whole legs.
Søren Raahauge, Marel Product Manager Robotic explains; “Improvements in styling performance also save labor, as there is much less need for trimming or restyling afterwards. This is a welcome benefit as finding qualified staff is becoming a bigger challenge for poultry processors everywhere.”
The RoboBatcher’s vision system detects the orientation of every product on the belt, passing this information to the gripper. This allows for it to adjust its angle, always picking up the product in the same way. The new grippers do not “drop” products into the tray, as bounce would cause a loss of control over how products land.
Instead, the gripper moves to the bottom of the tray to release product at exactly the right spot. The jaws of the gripper open no more than necessary, which is particularly important for the last product in a tray.
Soren Raahauge concludes, “We will continue to focus on improving the performance of our grippers. By making increasing use of robotics, new grippers will be able to handle even more poultry parts”.
In tray packing situations, the tail (end) of a breast fillet may protrude over the edge, making sealing impossible. The new RoboBatcher fillet gripper has a tail bending device, which pushes tails down when picking up fillet. The gripper then descends into the tray. Its jaws open and shut without any pressure; tensioning of the belt between them positions the fillet.
Grease on the tray and protruding tails no longer compromise sealing performance, which results in unequalled automatic styling.
The drumstick gripper has the same base but a totally different jaw design with no belt in between. Its slim jaws grab drumsticks by the bone, so that the thicker end protrudes, making it easy to arrange drumsticks side by side in the tray.
Should a customer want to tray drumsticks in a particular pattern, this is selected on RoboBatcher’s interface. Following the pattern, RoboBatcher always places drumsticks into trays in the same order. The gripper goes deep into the tray, opening its jaws gently and releasing product for the best possible styling.
The latest whole leg gripper, looking somewhat like an upturned basket, picks up an average of 60 legs per minute. When a leg is detected on the belt, the jaws and push-out system position themselves over it. As the gripper moves upwards, the jaws close. The gripper is 500g lighter than its predecessor and can be moved around more quickly.
Designing the three new jaws called for some advanced engineering. 3D printing gave engineers design flexibility and allowed them to keep weight as low as possible, which is important for capacity.
RoboBatcher moves quickly with acceleration forces of up to 10G. A heavy gripper could potentially slow performance and risk damage. The new grippers feature many 3D printed plastic parts with fewer bolted joints needed. They are also much easier to clean.
A new tray guide system keeps trays firmly in place regardless of size and height. As grippers go really deep into the tray, it is important that they do not take trays with them when they retract. With the new top guide, fully adjustable for height, this cannot happen.
RoboBatcher now features belt lifters, allowing spray nozzles to reach all parts of the belt’s underside. This means they no longer have to be removed for cleaning. The vision system is also easier to clean as it has been integrated into the RoboBatcher, which has fewer steel feet.