August 25, 2021

Case Farms Increases Fresh Chicken Production with Robotic Depalletizing, Palletizing, and Conveying Systems

Customer Problem

The customer was manually palletizing cases of fresh chicken and sending them to a 3PL to be frozen for warehouse storage. In order to speed up the freezing process, special “egg crate style” tier sheets were stacked between all layers of all products. The sheets had to be manually removed between layers – and sanitized – before the pallets could be manually palletized for distribution, resulting in excessive amounts of labor and cost.

The customer built a new facility to execute all processes internally. A solution was needed to move cases of fresh chicken from production to a Variable Retention Time (VRT) blast freezer, then to a palletizing system for warehouse distribution. Once frozen, cases needed to be palletized and stretch wrapped for storage in a freezer warehouse for shipment.

Adaptec Depal, Palletizer and Conveying Solution

Adaptec collaborated with numerous partners to design, build, and install a complete turnkey solution, moving product from production/de-palletizing, through the VRT, then to palletizing and stretch wrapping. The project consists of six case conveyor lines that feed the VRT freezer including depalletizing from a sister site. Product is conveyed out of the VRT to two palletizers. Bar code scanners are located at the infeed of all lines and at discharge to ensure bar code compliance and communicate information to the VRT.

The depalletizing cell receives full pallets of fresh chicken from a remote facility. Vision technology is used for product quality and case orientation. Both the depalletizing and palletizing cells use FANUC M-410iC/185 robots. Before palletizing, cases are transported onto a Hytrol ProSort MRT conveyor to be sorted to the appropriate palletizing lane.

A shuttle car takes empty pallets from the pallet dispenser to each palletizing lane and stages empty pallets as required. The palletizing robots then pick cases as defined by the pallet stack pattern. Full pallets will move down the conveyor to the Wulftec stretch wrapper to await forklift pick up.

Fanuc FANUC M-410iC/185 palletizing robot with a Schmalz vacuum EOAT
Adaptec tech in front of 2 Fanuc palletizing robots and a pallet dispenser on site at Case Farms
Adaptec tech walking towards a Wulftec WCRT-200 rotary arm stretch wrapper
Adaptec tech inspects Alba pallet conveyor in front of a Wulftec WCRT-200 rotary arm stretch wrapper
Hytrol right angle sortation conveyor leading into 2 robotic palletizing cells
Adaptec tech works with Case Farms employee in front of Wulftec stretch wrapper
Back view of Hytrol conveyors leading into 2 Fanuc robotic palletizing cells with multiple empty pallets
SpanTech conveyor lines with product exiting the VRT towards palletizing
Fanuc M410iC/185 palletizing robot with Schmalz vacuum end of arm tool
Cases of freshly packaged chicken on Spantech conveyor lines heading to a VRT for freezing
Overhead view of Wulftec stretch wrapper

Results

  • The depalletizing cell operates at 20 cases per minute.
  • The palletizing system is designed to handle 4 SKUs at any time. Rate of product out of the freezer is 72 cases per 115 seconds. The cell is a dual 4-in, 4-out system with a lane dedicated for manual pallet stacking for lower volume product.
  • The stretch wrapper wraps up to 60 loads per hour.

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