ABB Robots Save Valentine's Day

Feb 11, 2017

ABB has helped to find a fast and precise solution for a company called NECCO that boxes the famous Valentine Conversation candy hearts. ABB decided on two IRB 340 SA (wash-down version) robots for the job. These robots are capable of 150 picks per minute and NECCO says this automated solution from ABB "far exceeded their expectations and have created an enormous benefit."


Valen­tine Con­ver­sa­tion hearts are an icon­ic can­dy, known to adults and chil­dren, alike. They were cre­at­ed by NEC­CO, the New Eng­land Con­fec­tionery Com­pa­ny. NEC­CO is one of the old­est can­dy com­pa­nies in the Unit­ed States, dat­ing back to 1847. To con­tin­ue suc­cess­ful­ly and com­pet­i­tive­ly pro­duc­ing their deli­cious can­dy for mil­lions of peo­ple, NEC­CO decid­ed to update their process with a robot­ic solu­tion. They sought an auto­mat­ed solu­tion that would incor­po­rate robots into the pack­ag­ing process to help elim­i­nate work in process and the hand-feed­ing of box­es on the pack line. Fur­ther­more, they want­ed some­thing that was flex­i­ble enough to accom­mo­date future pro­duc­tion needs and var­ied pack­ag­ing configurations.

NEC­CO turned to ABB to help stream­line their labor-inten­sive and time-con­sum­ing process for box­ing their famous Valen­tine Con­ver­sa­tion can­dy hearts. NECOO’s indus­tri­al engi­neer­ing man­ag­er, Frank Rus­so, said We need­ed to find a way to cre­ate a con­tin­u­ous process that would reduce han­dling by elim­i­nat­ing work in process and hand feed­ing box­es on the pack line.”

ABB answered the call with two ABB IRB 340 SA (wash-down ver­sion) Flex­Pick­ers in one line. The robots made the car­ton fill­ing and pack­ag­ing a con­tin­u­ous process as the hearts were filled on a ver­ti­cal car­ton­er. One-ounce heart box­es were moved from the car­ton­er to a con­vey­or that feeds the robots. The sys­tem then placed four box­es onto a belt, which fed the shrink wrap­per. The box­es were ori­ent­ed depend­ing on the type of wrap used, shrink wrap or flow-wrapped hang­ing bags. Then, con­vey­ors were used to help accu­mu­late, cre­ate a buffer, and con­trol the flow from the car­ton­er to the wrap­pers. The box­es were metered to help ensure a con­sis­tent gap was cre­at­ed as they were trans­port­ed from the car­ton­er to the robot cells.

The ABB IRB 340 robots then pick up box­es in groups of 3 – 4, depend­ing on the run, and place box­es on the wrapper’s in-feed con­vey­or in the desired con­fig­u­ra­tion. These robots were able to pro­vide flex­i­bil­i­ty for future pro­duc­tion needs, includ­ing dif­fer­ent pack­ing con­fig­u­ra­tions, when necessary.

Capa­ble of 150 picks per minute, this par­al­lel-arm Delta robot is sure to improve a vari­ety of pick and place appli­ca­tions. The wash­able ver­sion of the ABB IRB 340 IRC5 Delta robot has an IP67 pro­tec­tion rat­ing. It is built to with­stand clean­ing with a low-pres­sure appli­ca­tion of mild deter­gent. ABB used cor­ro­sion-resis­tant mate­ri­als and spe­cial paint and sealed cov­ers to pro­tect this robot. The fourth axis of the IRB 340SA has slide bear­ings to facil­i­tate more thor­ough spray-downs. For safe­ty, there are dou­ble cir­cuits with super­vi­sion, e‑stops, 3‑position enabling device and oth­er safe­ty functions.

Rus­so stat­ed that, indeed, the pro­duc­tion line with the two IRB 340 robots has far exceed­ed their expec­ta­tions and have cre­at­ed an enor­mous ben­e­fit.” The ABB robots have reduced labor costs and increased through­put. Addi­tion­al­ly, NEC­CO can make sim­ple changes to the robots’ pro­gram­ming to accom­mo­date new pack­ag­ing sizes.

NEC­CO is ready to con­tin­ue its rich his­to­ry of can­dy mak­ing and ensure that con­ver­sa­tion hearts remain a Valentine’s Day sta­ple for many years to come. Why set­tle for a box of can­dy hearts when you can have a machine that could help you pro­duces mil­lions of box­es of can­dy hearts? This Valentine’s Day, show your appre­ci­a­tion for your loved ones, and buy them a robot from Robots​.com!

Con­tact Robots​.com experts to dis­cuss the wide range of new and refur­bished robots avail­able for pur­chase. Experts can be reached online or by phone at 8777626881.

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