At the Pack Expo in Chicago from October 23 to 26, Syntegon presented for the first time its IDH (intelligent direct handling) in combination with a Pack 202 flow-wrapping machine at its stand. The new solution for handling and portioning cookies and crackers with its IDH process is based on a newly developed picker technology using linear motors.
The flexible pick-and-place machine not only ensures particularly gentle product handling, but also offers a compact design along with high output and the option of loading different products both flat and on-edge – making it a highly efficient and flexible addition to Syntegon’s pick-and-place portfolio.
Gentle handling into flow-wrapper infeed or trays
The linear motor bar forms the heart of the new machine, explains Philipp Kathan, lead engineer IDH at Syntegon. “With a nominal 30 cycles per minute, the bar picks the products from the process belt and places them into a flow-wrapper infeed or into trays. Because of the slow and smooth movements of the linear motor movers, the cookies and crackers are handled with minimal mechanical stress and vacuum application – preventing breakage or damage to the product surface and ensuring optimal production efficiency.”
The IDH picks the cookies directly from the process belt to keep the transport distances between the oven and the packaged product as short as possible, thereby reducing abrasion. Not only does this result in less product wastage, cleaning efforts are minimized because less product residue accumulates in the system.
An integrated camera-based vision system detects the position and shape of the cookies and crackers on the infeed belt and transmits this information to the picker control system. It identifies different product patterns or random arrangements and processes them reliably. Each picker can be aligned individually to ensure all products are placed into trays or the infeed chain correctly. Moreover, an integrated mini-buffer automatically fills incomplete product rows, thus increasing system efficiency.
Flexible and future-proof
Besides gentle handling, the IDH impressed visitors with its product and pack style flexibility. The number of vacuum pickers can be adjusted depending on the respective product and production volume. For example, manufacturers can increase the number of vacuum pickers to as many as 40 as process output increases. When integrated into horizontal packaging lines, the Syntegon IDH provides high flexibility.
“With the IDH, we are launching a compact and flexible solution that offers manufacturers a variety of options for packaging different product shapes and sizes. Cookies and crackers are picked directly from the process belt and placed into trays or the infeed of the downstream flow wrapping machine either on-edge or flat. This allowed us to omit long belts with chicanes and make the system design even more flexible,” explains Daniel Bossel, product manager at Syntegon.
Compact design and high output
With its sophisticated overall concept, the IDH makes the packaging process less complex – the space-saving design not only minimizes conveying distances, but also allows for new system layouts traditionally used in bar production. Despite its compact dimensions, the IDH achieves a maximum output rate of up to 800 products per minute – combined with its low reject rate and short downtimes, this enables high overall equipment effectiveness.
“The Syntegon IDH complements the Syntegon RPP pick-and-place platform launched in 2021 perfectly,” Bossel states. “While the RPP’s delta robots pick up to 120 products per minute from a narrow belt, the IDH is ideal for higher volumes and particularly wide process belts. With our comprehensive portfolio for the cookie and cracker industry, we are able to offer our customers tailored system solutions with a low TCO from a single source.”