Canadian nutrition company automates their packaging process while reducing labor costs, and making their plant safer for employees.

The Common Struggle of Labor Costs

It’s no mystery that labor costs can be a source of financial strain for any business. This was certainly true for a local manufacturer of nutritional products, who wanted to find new ways to reduce labor costs at their facility. With multiple production plants across the world, they saw plenty of opportunity to find some automation solutions. After some research and a few phone calls, they found Apex, and that’s where everything started.

The Old Packaging ProcessRobotic Pick and Place packaging

One of the biggest bottlenecks that held this company back was their packaging process. It was entirely manual, so employees would have to repeatedly move vitamin bottles from conveyors into boxes, 8 hours a day, five days a week. Doing these repetitive tasks all day long would cause employees to strain their wrists, backs, and shoulders, eventually causing many of them to be forced to take time off work.

However, because of the variety of their products, they knew that they couldn’t purchase an off-the-shelf automation solution. Their packaging process required a solution that was custom-made to effectively fit into their plant, while also remaining compatible with all their products.  “We didn’t just want to look in a catalogue for a certain type of machine,” says their Engineering Director. “This needed to involve a lot of collaborative work between the supplier and the customer.” Check out this short demo to see Apex’s packaging robot in action: https://youtu.be/zKRvwQVkIy4

The Automation Solution

After careful analysis and support from the Apex team, this nutrition company was able to experience the full benefits of automation through a custom-made packaging solution. “Apex looked at every size, every cap, and every box we had, then designed the robot to our exact requirements,” said their Engineering Director. “You can’t get that just from picking a machine out of a catalogue!”
One of the special features of this automation solution was its customizable pickup tooling. This robot contained 15 sets of quick-change tooling, including mechanical grippers and vacuum tooling, so it could handle a wide range of products. Since the tooling was designed for quick, tool-free change overs, employees at the plant could easily modify the robot without any trouble.

The team at this manufacturing facility were extremely satisfied with the results, and their employees at the plant were able to help with other value-added tasks. This custom solution also reduced the occurrence of repetitive strain injury for everyone at the facility, helping keep everyone safe. “We’re not just looking for money savings,” their Engineering Director explained. “We’re looking for ways to protect our staff too, and I’d say this was a great success!”

This nutrition manufacturer was also extremely pleased with Apex’s continual post-sales support. “It’s not just about installing the equipment,” they explained. “It’s what you do for the next ten years after installation that makes a difference, and Apex has been really good with that! They’re a great company, and I would recommend them for sure!”

Want to learn more about how to solve your labor shortage issues with food and bakery production?
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Written by Patrick Juan – Apex Motion Control 02/27/2021