In February 2018, Cosmos Brewery in Thailand, one of Thai Beverage PCL’s subsidiaries and maker of the famous Chang beer, automated its beer bottling line with ABB’s industry-leading palletizing robotic automation system. Within 3 years’ time, the robotic system is expected to boost productivity by 20%.
High consumer standards are changing preferences towards premium quality beverages in Thailand, whose important $4.6 billion beer market is expected to grow by 2.6% annually over the next three years.
Taking palletizing to new heights
One of the most repetitive, labor intensive tasks in a brewery is the constant movement of beer bottles. Automating the palletizing of newly filled bottles or the de-palletizing of returned bottles has always been a challenge due to the bottles’ fragility – especially when moving at the high speeds required to improve productivity.
ABB’s solution for Cosmos included a turnkey high speed palletizing system with its IRB 660 robot equipped with two ‘plug-and-play’ flex gripper clamps that allow the robot to pick up to 24,000 bottles an hour. ABB determined that short cycle times with high acceleration values were needed to delicately handle the bottles despite the fast throughput. This meant the system needed quick and precisely-coordinated motion sequences, which were managed through ABB’s specific palletizing applications and RobotStudio® simulation and offline programming software.
For each new cycle, the robot picks up new bottles from their crates and places them on a conveyor belt, then removes the top sheet, and then returns the bottles to the crates. The other gripper picks up the returned beer bottles from their crates and places them onto empty pallets which are then placed on a conveyor belt.
Popping open productivity
Before the ABB robotic system was installed, the job of moving bottles was performed manually by a team of five operators. The repetitive work of lifting 12 bottles at a time by each operator compared with 240 bottles at a time by the IRB 660 is helping increase the brewery’s productivity. And, the workers were released from physically demanding, repetitive work to focus on more rewarding tasks. This is helping ThaiBev’s competitive edge and aligning with the Thailand 4.0 concept, a government-led policy to transform the Thai economy from being industry-driven to an innovation- and technology-driven one in order to bring the country forward.
“There is tremendous growth in Thailand’s food and beverage industries right now, and while expanding activities we need to keep people safe and give them more rewarding jobs. ABB is proud to be helping one of Thailand’s most important industries grow domestically and abroad, while making our people’s work more meaningful,” said Lumboon Simakajornboon, Manager of ABB’s Robotics business in Thailand.
ABB Robotics is a pioneer in industrial and collaborative robots and advanced digital services. As one of the world’s leading robotics suppliers, we are active in 53 countries and over 100 locations and have shipped over 300,000 robot solutions in a diverse range of industries and applications. We help our customers to improve flexibility, efficiency, safety and reliability, while moving towards the connected and collaborative factory of the future. www.abb.com/robotics