For cake lovers, Mettingen in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, is a mouthwatering paradise. It’s home to family-owned frozen dessert maker Coppenrath & Wiese, whose ovens bake around 260,000 cream cakes and three million rolls every day. The company also makes strudels, biscuits and cream rolls on 25 highly flexible production lines at the facility.
In 2011 Coppenrath & Wiese introduced the dessert cup to help the company produce an assortment of sweet bakery products and bread rolls. The lids of transparent plastic cups for the desserts needed be placed automatically – a difficult task since the lid covers were not flat, but had an unusual curved shape. It’s no coincidence that the first robot was commissioned at Coppenrath & Wiese that year. ABB’s Delta robot IRB 360 FlexPicker fit the company’s plans perfectly.
“ABB has become our robot supplier for several reasons,” says Dietmar Lehmkuhl, who, together with colleagues, manages the equipment at Coppenrath & Wiese.
“The robot can be cleaned very easily; several other manufacturers could not meet this important criterion. The decision to go with ABB was also made because there is only need for one controller to manage the robots.”
In 2012, the engineering department at Coppenrath & Wiese integrated fifteen more flex pickers onto several production lines. The technicians were provided with the necessary knowledge about robot technology and programming both in training and by exchanges with ABB experts. Deeper questions were handled from both sides during coaching sessions. On its most recent production line, which went into operation in mid-2013, the company chose four IRB 360 robots for packaging and two 6-axis IRB 4600s for conversion boxes. This line has two products, including the new pastry “Sweet Spell.” Each package contains six small sweets with cream topping and fruity filling. The individually quick frozen (IQF) products are transported into the packing facility and every tray with 24 sweets is collected. On a conveyor line, four successively arranged IRB 360s go over them with their multiple grippers, continuously moving six pastries at a time to their packaging.
The robots work with ABB’s Pickmaster software for the simpler programming multi-robot applications. Another useful program that was used during implementation was RobotStudio, ABB’s simulation program. ABB technicians were able to simulate, in advance, the ideal location and working height of the robot as well as the cycle times, and found that the IRB 4600 was a perfect fit for this task. “I appreciate the highly motivated employees at ABB, and the short distances to their location,” says Lehmkuhl. “For us it is always possible to drive to ABB Friedberg to look at and test the equipment onsite. With a foreign robot manufacturer that would have been difficult.”