Filling and packaging of ice cream
Presentation plays a crucial role in the industrial production of ice cream. Even when it arrives in large-size containers, the product needs to look like a handmade delicacy. The Robot Filler does this to perfection. Big Drum Engineering GmbH specializes in the manufacture of equipment for the filling and packaging of ice cream. Its innovative machines make it possible to produce a wide variety of ice creams quickly and economically. Big Drum machines have a production capacity of up to 50,000 tubs per hour.
But output alone is not all that matters. In addition to quality, the presentation of the product often leads to a decisive buying impulse, particularly when it comes to ice cream. What was required was a setup that would allow ice cream to be put into large tubs so that it looked more appealing, appetizing and individual.
Innovative filling machine for large containers
Stäubli was able to provide the perfect solution for the job with its splash-proof HE robots (HE as an abbreviation stands for “Humid Environment”). Because of the cleaning procedures laid down in the food industry, standard robots are completely unsuitable for this application. The equipment is cleaned according to strict hygienic criteria with aggressive media and a fierce water jet, which would immediately disable any standard robot. The Stäubli TX90 HE with its special protective casing and watertight wrist is immune to such rough treatment.
This is why Big Drum Engineering uses the Stäubli TX90 HE in the machine they have called Robot Filler. This system has been designed for filling and packaging ice cream in large tubs of between 3.5 and 6.0 liters. The job of filling the tubs is done by the TX90 HE robot, which is equipped with a nozzle on the wrist and is connected directly to the freezer via a hose line. The freezer supplies the robot with the liquefied product at a pressure of eight bar. The six-axis TX90 HE can be programmed to make it look as if the ice cream were being hand-filled by the local Italian parlor.
Technical challenge: the cleaning procedure
The system has been completely finished in stainless steel. The Robot Filler strictly conforms to FDA guidelines and meets the most rigorous hygienic standards that apply in the food sector. Because all of its surface areas are exposed, cleaning is a very simple process. Nevertheless, the frequency of cleaning poses a real challenge that can only be reliably met by an HE robot.
The actual filling of the ice cream is a routine job for the industrial robot, which it carries out with the utmost dependability, even when working around the clock in a three-shift operation. Another advantage is that the system is very compact and has only a small footprint within the production area, which means it can be quickly moved to another location as and when required. The Robot Filler is also extremely flexible in production. The setup can process not only different container sizes, but also packaging made of different materials such as plastic and cardboard.
Despite the highly innovative nature of the facility, the provider has placed great emphasis on a robust and at the same time cost-optimized concept. The system has been designed for simplicity, with sensor technology and other expensive equipment being limited to the absolutely essential. The major advantage of the Robot Filler for the user is that it delivers reliable service at a reasonable price.