According to a survey conducted by the Innofact market research institute, 94 percent of Germans consider potato salad to be the barbecue side dish par excellence, even ready from the refrigerated shelf. With the start of the barbecue season, sales increase by up to 300 percent. Manufacturers like Wernsing Feinkost GmbH must meet the highest hygiene design standards in production. Since 1962, the international food group based in Addrup in Lower Saxony has been offering potato salad as well as other delicatessen salads and French fries. TRAPO AG, partner for industrial automation in the food industry, ensures precise and clean palletizing of the plastic containers with a high-performance conveyor and robot system
In the selection process Wernsing was looking for a solution for single plastic containers of different volumes – from two to five litres. The challenge: Exact palletizing on a very small area with an extremely low ceiling height. Since all TRAPO components come from a single source, the technology could be individually adapted and programmed to the spatial conditions; a multi-function gripper performs two different tasks: Stacking and palletizing.
TRAPO pilot plant with in-house stainless steel production
The conveyor and robot system was designed, manufactured and tested in the TRAPO technical center in Gescher-Hochmoor. The Wernsing containers were tested under real conditions, quality and performance were tested and data were evaluated in real time. The system was not installed at Wernsing until the results were optimal. Only food-safe, stainless steel of the highest quality – glass bead blasted or electropolished if required – is processed in the in-house production. For around 50 years, the stainless steel components have met the constantly increasing requirements for use in food production, clean rooms and other sensitive environments.
Optimized conveying, stacking and palletizing
At Wernsing, the potato salad containers are brought together from two lines. With its multifunctional gripper, the robot ensures that the layers are safely stacked on the pallets. The filled containers are then transported via a conveyor belt to the gripper, which in turn places the containers to be stacked centrally and precisely in the trough of the lid recess of the salad container underneath. For this purpose, the robot grips the containers at an angle and moves precisely to the storage position. The gripper then gently vibrates the layer of four containers and gently presses the product into the nest of the lower lid. After each two finished layers, vacuum grippers with different levels suck in a single stable intermediate layer at an angle in order to place it exactly. The gripper thus ensures a stable layer pattern with perfectly positioned containers. Once the last row has been deposited, an empty pallet is fed via the pallet magazine for re-palletizing.
In the almost 60 years since its foundation in 1962, Wernsing has developed from a small, regional family business into an internationally active group of companies. In order to meet the customer's demand for consistently high quality, processes in production and intralogistics had to be automated. "The TRAPO AG system enables us to palletise the filled containers safely, precisely and quickly, even at peak times. This is the optimal basis for reliable transport to retailers and consumers," explains Stephan Suchert, plant manager at Wernsing Feinkost.
The high-performance robot layer palletizer installed by TRAPO AG at Wernsing in live operation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wQaR8Qvx_M