Lay-flat packing technology

Proco Machinery Inc., a leading manufacturer of automation systems for the blow moulding industry, has launched a unique lay-flat packing technology which allows blow moulders to pack plastic bottles on their sides, as opposed to placing them with necks up or down. The new tooling technology makes use of collaborative robot automation systems from Universal Robots, based in Boston, Massachusetts.

The new Lay Flat Tooling innovation helps blow moulders and brand owners maximise product capacity for a given container. The company has developed two sets of tooling for two different applications – one for straight neck-to-neck packaging in the box and another for offset neck orientation from row to row. This potentially allows a blow moulder of bottles to pack 270 bottles in a box instead of 250, resulting in maximised capacity and savings on freight cost.

For Proco’s unique lay-flat system, the company designed a solution to counter the cobot’s inherent desire to resist force. “You need to have a small bit of clearance between the box and bottle so the tooling arm goes in and comes out,” Krish explained. Ultimately, the design of the bottle determines how Proco customises the robot’s packing routine. “Every bottle and every pack count and every production line will be completely different,” he said.

The lay-flat technology is claimed to widen the scope of containers that can be packed automatically. Proco Machinery has developed several different options for packing bottles inside a box including a patent pending End-of-Arm Tooling specifically designed for PET bottle applications.

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