THE UR10 COLLABORATIVE ROBOT ALLOWS COVAP TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY LEVELS AND PRODUCT QUALITY IN A CLEAN ROOM ENVIRONMENT
01 the short story
The Spanish food company, COVAP, has successfully installed an UR10 cobot in its plant for cured Iberian meat products in order to operate together with the operators of the line, and speed up the packaging process. After having placed a vacuum packaging machine next to the ham slicer in the clean room, so as to shorten the time between the slicing of the ham and the moment when it is sealed in its packaging, the number of production cycles per minute to which the machine was operating was reduced from 8 cycles per minute to 5. They installed the cobot with a pick-and-place application on the packaging line and thus recovered the previous production level, without negatively affecting the quality of the product or the working environment. The experience with the Universal Robots robot has been so beneficial in that a plan is already underway to install 3 more.
02 the challenge
COVAP is the acronym for the Cooperativa Andaluza Ganadera del Valle de los Pedroches, a livestock farming cooperative founded in 1959, located in Cordoba and which today has more than 4.500 members. It is now one of the Spanish farming cooperatives with the highest level of production, and supplies and distributes a broad range of dairy, meat and animal feed products both nationally and internationally, with a sales turnover of over 441 million euros a year.
The company is currently undergoing a process of expansion and growth in which the facilities are being constantly enlarged and expanded with two main focus areas: improving the quality of the working environment and improving the quality of the work, firstly based on ergonomics for the worker, and secondly the quality of both the final product and its handling.
As part of these improvements, COVAP has an innovation committee in which one of the key focus points is to improve the sensory aspect of their products, in order in satisfy the demands of their consumers. In the plant for processing Iberian cured ham products, their aim was to improve the product packaging so as to optimize the sensory experience for the consumer when it is opened.
In order to achieve this, the innovation committee and the R+D+i department decided to locate the vacuum packaging machine beside the slicer machine in the clean room, so as to shorten the time between the ham being sliced and the moment it is sealed into its packaging. However this had the effect of also shortening the number of output cycles per minute that the machine was operating at, from 8 cycles per minute to 5.
Video — UR10 Robot, Covap, Spain
03 the solution
According to David Muñoz, Manager of Neobotik, an integrator of Universal Robots in Andalusia, "COVAP needed to increase the production, so we installed a UR10 with a pick & place application for placing plastic trays on the vacuum packaging line”. The UR10 cobot was easily integrated into the line and to operate alongside the line workers, speeding up the packaging process and maintaining previous productivity levels on the line without a negative effect on product quality or the working environment.
Worker safety was a key factor in the decision to use the Universal Robots solution. “Prior to acquiring the robot, a full risk analysis was undertaken and it was decided that safety fencing was not an option due to the space it occupies”, says Rafael Cantarero, Automation technician at COVAP. “The implementation of the UR10 allowed us to create a ‘virtual safety barrier’ by limiting the speed and force of the robot’s movements to 2000mm/s and 120 Newtons respectively, thereby allowing the line workers to feel safe working side by side with the robot in such a relatively small space”.
Another important reason behind choosing a UR cobot was its ability to operate in clean room environments. “In order to guarantee food safety, the plant has a clean room in which all our products are sliced, where we work with positive pressure in order to guarantee that the environment is safe and product contamination cannot happen”, says Purificación Prats Bejarano, Iberian Products Quality Coordinator at the plant. “We decided on this type of robot because it allowed us to meet our own standards in terms of the materials it is made from.”
Juan Antonio Ballesteros, America Area Manager COVAP USA, comments that “In this dynamic and ever changing food industry, Universal Robots has offered us flexibility, adaptability and the ability to customize. We always evaluate all options and any investment COVAP makes is supported by a profitability analysis. In this case indicated a return in investment of just 16 months, which for us is a very good timeframe”.
“In this case we were delighted to receive the Gold Edition robot for having ordered cobot number 25,000”, he adds. The Universal Robots Gold Edition robot was a cobot designed specifically with elegant golden joints to commemorate the sale of twenty-five thousand robots since the first commercial model was installed in 2008.
COVAP will integrate 3 more UR cobots in coming months in other production plants, thanks to the profitability and high availability offered by this first one. Pedro Baena, Robot Sales Manager at Fluitronic, Universal Robots' distributor in the region, says, "It has been a great pleasure for us to be able to collaborate with Neobotik and provide an automation solution to this leading food company in Andalucia. The fact that we have already been asked for 3 more cobots is the best testimony of the positive advantages that collaborative robotics offer to innovative and progressive companies such as COVAP".
UR10 collaborative robot, COVAP, Spain
UR10 Cobot, COVAP, Spain
Winner of the Golden Cobot, COVAP, Spain
UR10 Covap Spain
UR10 Covap Spain
- Increase productivity in line with previous levels
- Increase machine cycles from 5 to 8 per minute
- Easy to install, program and use
- Safe operating alongside humans
- Capable of operating in clean room environments
- ROI in just 16 months
- Pick and place
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Cost-effective, safe and flexible collaborative robots - or cobots- are making automation easier than ever, even for the small and mid-sizes companies. Are you ready to find out if your company is ready to automate?