THE NETHERLANDS, Boxmeer. With supermarkets’ insistence on attractive presentations, tray styling is a hot topic among poultry processors. Marel’s new RoboBatcher Flex grippers are the perfect answer for fillets, drumsticks and whole legs.
They allow fixed-weight batched products to be placed into trays according to patterns chosen by the user. Despite their amazing speed, they handle products with utmost care, and also save labor.
Soren 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 gripper’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.
In tray packing situations, the tail (end) of a breast fillet may protrude over the edge, making sealing impossible. The new fillet gripper has a tail bending device, which pushes tails down when picking up fillet. The gripper then descends into the tray. Grease on the tray and protruding tails no longer compromise sealing performance, which results in unequalled automatic styling. The smart jaws of the new drumstick and whole leg grippers pick up products in the most favorable way, so that their position, while moving, makes it easy to arrange them side by side in the tray.
RoboBatcher moves quickly with acceleration forces of up to 10G; a heavy gripper could slow performance and risk damage. The lightweight grippers feature many 3D printed synthetic parts with fewer bolted joints needed, so they can move around more quickly. They are also much easier to clean. 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 – no tools needed – in less than a minute.