Many process steps at the end of a packaging line still take place manually. Operators bring pallets to the packaging machines, stack them and secure them manually. This practice is not only unergonomic and strenuous for employees, it is also vulnerable. When pallets are not precisely stacked on top of each other, the load becomes unstable and the products on top can be damaged during transport or storage. These processes also tie up workers who could be handling more important tasks. This is a crucial factor when there's a shortage of skilled workers and high sick-leave rates resulting, for example, from the coronavirus pandemic. A fully automated system, such as the one MOSCA is demonstrating at FachPack 2022, offers a viable solution. Timo Mosca explains: "Our conversations with customers in recent months have shown a significant increase in the demand for fully automated end-of- line systems. These highly versatile solutions become all the more appealing when there's a shortage of workers because they offer manufacturers much more plannability and reliability with higher throughput rates."
Open concept for a wide variety of products
In the MOSCA live demonstration, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) supplied by GEBHARDT, a MOSCA affiliate, transport palletised products through several handling stations. The individual pallets are first strapped vertically by a MOSCA KZV-321. This fully automatic strapping machine can be equipped with up to six strap lances at three different heights to strap up to 65 single or double pallets per hour. An integrated turntable allows the pallets to be cross strapped for additional stability before the KARIS AGV transports them to the Movitec pallet doubler. This unit lifts pallets with a maximum weight of up to 2000 kilograms and sets them down again after a second pallet has been inserted. Up to 70 individual pallets can be doubled per hour. The AGV on the exhibition display stand conveys the double pallet again into the KZV-321, which straps the pallets into a bundled load. The strap is inserted through the pallet deck boards to keep it from touching the products. This allows the machine to use a higher strap tension for an extremely secure bond without damage. The AGV then transports the double pallet to the Saturn S6 ring wrapper, which wraps it with a top sheet to protect it from moisture, dust or other external influences. The stretch wrapper processes up to 120 pallets per hour.
"The system we are presenting at FachPack exemplifies the maximum expansion level," explains Christian Zwieb, MOSCA Engineering Sales Manager. "But first and foremost, we want to show transport security options for all companies working with pallets. The system includes strapping, for which MOSCA is best known, along with stretch wrapping and combined solutions. In principle, every MOSCA strapping machine from class 2 upwards can be integrated into a fully automated system. This also applies to stretch wrappers from MOSCA's Movitec brand."
Versatility for everyday production operations
Thanks to their versatility, MOSCA's fully automated systems are ideal for modern production environments and frequently changing products. With driverless AGVs, individual products can skip processing stations that are not necessary for securing a specific load, for example stretch wrapping for heavy building materials or re-strapping of pallets that are transported separately. AGVs save time and prevent backups, which often occur in fixed conveyor lines because machines connected in series handle products at different speeds. What's more, not all stations have to be sequentially arranged or located in close proximity to each other – which is usually the case with rigid conveyor technology. This enables companies to make optimal use of available space. The individual stations also work based on demand. If, for example, strapping alone produces a sufficiently stable load, the stretch wrapper uses less film to protect the product. When the throughput changes from low or high, the number of AGV units can be adjusted to take full advantage of the capacity of high-performance strapping machines.