The historic whole grain manufacturer looked for many years to use collaborative robots for palletizing tasks, but had not found a solution meeting the speed, payload, or reach requirements until the release of the UR20. The new, larger cobot from Universal Robots now successfully meets required cycle times at Bob’s Red Mill, freeing up four operators while helping propel company growth.
The Business Transformation
Inspire joy with wholesome foods. That’s the mantra at Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukie, Oregon. The company has grown from humble beginnings in 1978, when Bob Moore and his wife Charlee first started milling whole grain cereals, to a 325,000 square-foot large facility that employs 700+ workers, making more than 200 different products distributed across the U.S., Canada, and Asia.
“Our vision is to double the number of people eating Bob's Red Mill by 2030. Automation will help us reach that goal,” says Nick Chow, engineering and fabrication manager at Bob’s Red Mill, who started deploying larger industrial palletizing robots as the manual labor market dwindled during COVID. A solution that worked for the big production lines, but did not fit into smaller lines. “We wanted a robot that could operate much closer to operators in more confined spaces,” explains the engineering manager. But when Bob’s Red Mill researched the cobot market, the company was unable to find a solution that met the reach, payload and speed requirements of their palletizing cell. Until Nick Chow heard from Universal Robots’ partner Columbia/Okura that the company was working on incorporating the UR20 cobot into their turnkey palletizer; the miniPAL+®. “We had already worked with Bob’s Red Mill, deploying larger robots, and knew the UR20 would be a perfect fit for their smaller cells,” says inside sales specialist at Columbia/Okura, Parker Morris-Pinson.