Mölnlycke uses new system to transport and palletize SKUs
Robotic palletizing improves healthcare manufacturer’s efficiency and ergonomics as its production volumes rise.
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When Mölnlycke Health Care, a world-leading manufacturer of single-use wound care and surgical products, decided to build a new manufacturing facility in Brunswick, Maine, it knew the building would have to be outfitted with best-in-class materials handling equipment. To maintain its production requirements, including cleanroom standards on its production floor, the company selected an integrated system that would efficiently transport and palletize SKUs.
The new system begins at the end of Mölnlycke’s two manufacturing lines. As finished products are packaged, the cartons are sealed through an automatic taper. A label is then applied and the carton continues up a plastic belted spiral conveyor, as it is routed to a custom-designed sluicing mechanism.
To maintain clean room standards, each carton enters the air locked chamber before traveling to the palletizing and shipping area. After the sluicing mechanism opens one door on the production side, products enter, the door closes and another opens to an automated roller conveyor, which descends to the robotic palletizing cell.
Two lines of products feed the robotic palletizing cell in a two in, two out design. The conveyor system accumulates four cartons in a row, and the robotic end of arm tool picks up the row and palletizes the product, building 9-foot high pallets. A full pallet is then transported on a pallet conveyor to an automatic stretch wrapper, where it is finally picked up by a forklift and loaded onto a truck for shipment.
The robotic palletizing system is designed to use the same product batch numbers as the production system, thereby providing better communication. As a result, the production side can quickly change products as needed, and the robotic system will quickly know what is coming and how to best palletize those products.
Overall, the new system allows Mölnlycke to safely transport product off the production floor, consistently palletize products and accommodate quick product changeover, while the ceiling hung conveyor saves critical floor space. With each component in place, Mölnlycke completes up to 16, 9-foot pallets per day while using a single palletizing robot, which leaves the company room for growth as production volumes increase.
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