FANUC Palletizing System Reduces Labor Costs at Alto Dairy
by Cathy Powell
FANUC America Corporation Posted 06/01/2008
Waupun, Wisconsin-based Alto Dairy faced significant costs related to strains and injuries suffered by workers required to palletize over 7,600 cases of cheese per eight hour shift. In addition, the repetitive manual palletizing job was boring and left workers overly tired and prone to absenteeism.
As a major producer of natural cheese, Alto Dairy required a cost-effective solution that would allow it to maintain an aggressive packaging schedule and reallocate its manual palletizing staff to less strenuous positions.
FANUC Robotics recommended the M-410i robot which offers the flexibility to handle multiple-sized products, but compact enough to fit into Alto’s tight workspace.
“Installation took only one day and went without a hitch,” said Dave Lemmenes, packaging maintenance leader at Alto Dairy. “We were running full production in less than one week.”
In the system, the M-410i robot, equipped with vacuum end-of-arm-tooling, PalletTool application software and related palletizing equipment automatically palletizes cases of cheese products from two infeed conveyors. As cases approach, the robot places a slip sheet onto an empty pallet and picks and palletizes two cases at a time. A fork truck operator transports full unit loads of up to 90 cases each out of the palletizing area.
“Not only have we reduced labor costs, but FANUC Robotics’ process design, 24-hour support and excellent training have contributed to 100% uptime,” said Lemmenes.“ “All this, plus the robot’s ability to work in a small space and its one-day installation, is helping Alto quickly realize full payback.”
Automated palletizing has allowed Alto Dairy to reallocate its manual palletizing staff to more fulfilling positions and has prompted the company to invest in a second robotic palletizer.
Palletizing 45-pound cases of shredded cheese, five days a week was once a back-wrenching job for workers at Alto Dairy. Now, a FANUC Robotics M-410i robot does the heavy lifting without breaking a sweat.