How Creative Automation Made a Difference: Denesting, Labeling & More for a Major American Adhesive Manufacturer

The Problem: Denest, label and lid 3 pail sizes while improving throughput and minimizing footprint.

When a major American manufacturer of sealants and adhesives decided to invest in new automation equipment, Wrabacon Inc. was asked to create a proposal for the company’s pail denesters, lid denesters, lid presses, and pail turners.

What is Denesting? For the uninitiated, a pail (or lid) denester automates the pulling-apart of buckets or pails so that they can then be automatically placed into a system where they are filled, labeled, and sealed shut. Prior to installing a custom solution by Wrabacon, the facility’s only automation took place when pails were actually filled, and it could only be done as fast as an employee could manually move each bucket to and from the filling area. Denesting the pails, lidding them, and labeling them was all done by hand – which posed problems for ergonomics, production rate, and efficiency. By introducing a more automated solution, our customer could finally realize the fast, predictable, and effective throughput that would allow them to grow.

What Was the Need?

 

A system that could quickly and efficiently automate a pail filling line, while accommodating 3 pail sizes with their own fill rates, label and lid sizes.  

 

 

It Counts to Be Creative

After reviewing several other vendors for this equipment, the client chose Wrabacon’s proposed solution, not because our machine was fancier, but because it was tailor-made to meet their specific goals: a small foot print, and a high ROI. This was done by carefully considering their space and application.

To meet our client’s need, our creative automation experts went to work to carefully study the application, the environment, and the product at hand.

At Wrabacon, this stage in the process is critical. Not only does it give our engineers the opportunity to fully understand our client’s facility and process – but it enables our team to create a truly custom automation solution that accounts for the many possible variables at play with each application or environment.

The Solution: Wrabacon’s Denester

Reliable Throughput, Minimal Footprint

For our customer, the goal was to handle 3 separate container sizes, while ensuring both a small footprint and a high degree of reliability. Does that mean 1 complex system for all 3 sizes to save space? Or a hybrid solution that’s  slightly larger, but less intricate and more reliable? It’s questions like these that our team tackles for every custom system. 

Every creative automation project is a balancing act. Too much adjustability and size differential can cause problems with throughput and reliability. Too little, and the space required for each system component can become unwieldy.

Our team worked to strike the ideal balance. By carefully considering the customer’s facility and process, we made the determination that a single machine for all 3 pail sizes just wouldn’t meet their needs without sacrificing performance, reliability, and ROI.

Instead, our system uses one denester for bailed buckets in the two largest sizes, with a separate denester for non-bailed ½ gallon buckets. After the pails are denested, they then progress to a labeling area, a filling area (pre-existing), and a lidding area. Finally, each pail exits the system after being guided down an incline conveyor and manually removed.

Throughout the process, our design remains focused on carefully guiding each pail to its destination quickly and efficiently – with numerous stops and guides to ensure reliability and control.

Labeling

Orient, Adjust, and Label Pails in 3 Different Sizes

After pails are de-nested on their respective machines, they enter the labeling area where a pneumatic gate stops each pail before a set of side-belts rotate the pail to a preset position for labeling. After labels are placed, the system will release the pail from its position and lower a pair of stop gates to let the pail continue downstream to be transferred onto the client’s filling conveyor.

Lid Denesting and Rolling

Two Systems, Multiple Sizes, Greater Efficiency 

For this system, the two larger containers share a lid denester and placer while the smaller pails utilize their own lid denester and placer.  With hoppers that can be loaded at any time, the operation of this system halts each pail with a stopping gate so that lids can be released from above and dropped loosely onto the container. Next, they move downstream where each lid is rolled onto the container with a series of tapered rollers. The size difference between pails dictates the only change in functionality between large lid denesters and small lid denesters – which allows the smaller denester to handle two containers at once, with a dual vertical hopper.

The Result

Space Saving Reliability at a Competitive Price

Ultimately, our entire system was designed to be a simple and efficient automation solution to separate buckets and lids, while also handling alignment for labeling and lidding. In the beginning, all denesting, labeling, and lidding was done by hand. Today, the company experiences much greater productivity and efficiency – allowing them to accurately forecast throughput and productivity while more efficiently (and competitively) providing product to customers around the world.

Picking Your Pick and Place System

At Wrabacon, we deal with automation systems every day. Some of the most common components we deal with are pick and place systems. With that in mind, the number of variations available with a modern pick and place system can make the process a bit daunting. For that reason, we’ve come up with a few guidelines on how to more effectively identify your needs. Read on to learn more!

For businesses around the world, the pick and place system is undoubtedly the heart of just about every assembly process. Many times, it is also the most important equipment decision a manufacturer or business can make. Especially for electronics applications involving SMT production lines, a pick and place system plays an incredibly important roll and will ultimately have an effect on not just the quality of the end product, but the efficiency of the entire production line.

When identifying the right pick and place system, first it’s important to know your requirements. Ask yourself, how many total placements will you need the pick and place system to make in one cycle? For example, if your specific pick and place system is for PCB’s, you’ll need to know four important pieces of information.

Consider your needs now

First, it’s important to know how many total placements you will ultimately need on each PCB. Second, it’s important to know your specific component packages in order to identify the best feeder size and delivery method. Will tape work best? Or do your applications call for a tube and matrix tray? This is a very important step that will ultimately influence the reliability and efficiency of your system.

Third: You’ll need to identify the best feeder size and delivery method, you’ll want to know the total number of unique components that will be on the printed circuit board. This dictates how many feeder slots are required for your specific system. Finally, you must know your smallest, largest, and fine pitch requirements.

Consider your needs for the future

It’s not just important to consider your production needs now, it’s important to also consider your needs for the future as well. Given that your pick and place system is a central part of your automation system, having to make adjustments to meet future demands will not only hinder your productivity, but force you to make potentially costly adjustments as well. By taking advantage of modular automation system components, you can easily adjust your system to meet your demands now while seamlessly accommodating for your needs in the future as well.

Identify your production requirements

In order to build a system that effortlessly meets your production needs, you first need to know what your production needs actually are. Your production requirements per hour, day, week, and year will have a drastic impact on the makeup of your pick and place system and your required machine speed.

The Bottom Line

Any automation system needs to keep the future in mind while remaining cost effective and powerful for today’s needs. By making a couple smart choices now, you can potentially eliminate the need to make a very expensive choice in the future. In the end, this can be said for just about any automation system. While SMT placement works as a very good example for how useful a pick and place system can be, pick and place systems have important applications in businesses and industries of just about every variety.

Click here to learn more about pick and place systems by Wrabacon Incorporated.

What Makes a Successful Pick and Place System

Here at Wrabacon, we have a knack for creative automation. Why? Because it makes a difference.  Ever since the Roman period, automation has been used to make all kinds of tasks easier. After all, you’ve probably heard the saying, “Work smarter, not harder” haven’t you? That saying could very well be at the heart of automation. Since then, the science has become a central part of the industrial and manufacturing worlds. But before we can get into the incredible possibilities of modern pick and place systems and what makes them successful, it might help to take a look back at where it all began.

Consider for a moment the industrial revolution. One of the most important industries during this time, the textile industry, experienced unprecedented growth that changed the world in a number of ways – all due to automation equipment like the spinning jenny and the Spinning Mule. These inventions, while primitive by today’s standards, were used to spin cotton and other fibers into yarn. You might be wondering, “What does that have to do with a pick and place system?” But consider it this way: In terms of innovation, this was the cutting edge. A machine was being used to produce a new product. To, “place” one component into another.  In the very same way, modern pick and place systems are used to more effectively produce all kinds of products, from food to electronics. While 19th century automation systems were “placing” one product into another to create yarn, modern pick and place systems go so far as placing surface mount devices onto printed circuit board. They might be different products, but the same principle is at play.

So what made textile automation successful so many years ago, and what makes a successful pick and place system possible today? First, it has to be efficient.  Looking back, coming up with a groundbreaking automation system during the industrial revolution might seem relatively simple by today’s standards. However, automation systems for manufacturing electronic components, for example, are a bit more complex.  Efficiency relies on every aspect of the production line working together to be faster, more  reliable, and more productive. In order for that to happen, you must understand your feeder requirement and your speed and capacity requirements.  On top of that, it’s important to remember that a pick and place system shouldn’t be designed for just the present. It should be designed for the future as well. This is one major difference between the earliest automation equipment and the advanced systems used today.

On another level, a successful pick and place system also needs to be versatile. While this might have been impossible for early automation systems, any advanced pick and place system will be able to accommodate for changes in production, product, component size, and more. This might involve modular design to introduce new automation components, such as tray feeders, stackers, and vision systems. When it comes down to it, just about anything is possible these days.

For more on pick and place systems, take a look at the pick and place systems page on our main site. Or just give us a call!

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