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Comau Implements Robotization Of Intralogistics Processes In The Dairy Industry

Regional Dairy Cooperative in Kalisz (OSM Kalisz) has implemented a comprehensive system of product transportation, palletizing, packaging and storage, one of the most advanced solutions of this type in the dairy industry in Poland. The system incorporates Promag warehouse and intra-logistic solutions and the innovative robots of Comau.

The implementation was designed to expand and grow the company's processing capacity. The Kalisz Co-operative has spent tens of millions of zlotys on the investments to streamline production and warehousing processes, of which with more than half were financed with EU subsidies. The project included raw materials storage, manufacturing, packaging, and the finished goods warehouse; the entire implementation took just six months once Promag and OSM Kalisz started talks on the proposed technical solutions. “The installation of PROMAG S.A. vertical and horizontal transportation systems integrated with robots has markedly contributed to higher efficiency in the palletizing and transportation areas while their storage systems have allowed for maximum utilization of the available warehouse space,” stated the Regional Dairy Cooperative in Kalisz.

Seven Production and Transportation LinesOSM Kalisz operates seven production lines on a daily basis. Thanks to the investment, all of them work with the brand new transportation lines of the final products. Each conveyor belt has been adapted to meet the requirements of specific production equipment and fully integrated into the automation and safety system. Due to certain production space constraints, products move several meters above ground level using special vertical conveyors and industrial robots.

Palletizing RobotsAt OSM Kalisz, the palletization area is located in a separate building with three independent robot cells to which the conveyors deliver pallets and buckets. A stairway leading to a mezzanine over the transmission lines facilitates traffic and access to the line, as well as provides an excellent observation point for the area management. Each robot cell has been fitted with conveyors, pallet stackers, three-section roller conveyors, spacer storage, PAL robots and NJ robot. Two Comau PAL 260 robots handle palletizing of yoghurt trays. These are four-axle robots with a reinforced fifth axle to ensure that the level gripper stays parallel to the floor. To this end, an NJ 165 six-axis robot is used to move buckets with raw material. Comau was charged with supplying the robots, with Promag being responsible for their installation, including selection of robotic fixtures and software development. Moreover, the palletizing station has also been equipped with an integrated pallet replacement system which allows for loading of up to 45 europallets delivered to the appropriate loading station by the transfer system and conveyors. Pallets are automatically replaced at each of the stations. “Changing levels of production capacity throughout the year combined with high product seasonality often dictate the pace of manufacturing processes; thus, the use of industrial robots in the Kalisz plant has allowed us, first of all, to optimize production flexibility. By suitably selecting the robots and integrating them with the remaining components of the line we have successfully translated our efforts directly into higher capacity while – equally important - improving operator safety and work comfort in areas which previously had demanded considerable physical effort,” explains Comau.

Heat Loss Reduction in the Shock TunnelAfter loading, all the pallets are delivered directly to the pick-up location, or the so-called shock tunnel, through which they move continuously at low speed, depending on the product cooling technology requirements. In order to minimize undesirable heat exchange between various rooms, high-speed gates installed in the cooling tunnel have been integrated with the entire transportation system.

Efficient Packaging and Labeling

Finally, the transportation system delivers the pallets to the wrapper; from there, the product moves to the labeling station where shipping labels are affixed. The automatic labeling device mounted on the pallet rack satisfies all logistics requirements perfectly and, in the case of a double cycle, it can affix the labels on both sides of the pallet.

Pallets leave the palletization station and go to the refrigerated warehouse where a forklift operator picks them up and sends to the appropriate storage system.

Warehouse AutomationAt OSM Kalisz, the finished product warehouse has been equipped by Promag S.A. with two rack systems: the first one consists of mobile pallet racking, ideal for companies wishing to maximize their storage space utilization (e.g. when the space is relatively small), and - at the same time – to secure easy access to each shipping unit. All racks are mounted on special trolleys traveling on rails, making any narrow corridor available and enabling picking the required pallet. The other storage system consists of dense storage pallet racks with Automag semiautomatic satellite. These devices do not require any complex automation or control cabinets. Loading, unloading, and moving of the shipping units takes place in especially designed channels, using a radio-controlled platform. This is an excellent solution, for example when an efficient FIFO rotation system is required. The finished products warehouse is also equipped with a special bay which serves as an additional storage space, assisting the investor with the cheese maturing process. A vertical conveyor system with loading and unloading equipment delivers pallets to the bay. These three integrated units are operated from the bay by means of hand pallet trucks. “The lead time was very pressing since the investor had to settle accounts for the EU funds used to co-finance the project. Another challenge we faced was access to the space - the production hall was operating 24/7, plus we also had to cope with an aggressive work environment,” Promag S.A.

See these systems in action. Watch a video of Comau robots working at OSM Kalisz.

For more information, please visit Comau's website

September 30, 2020



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