Dean Foods pioneers use of stainless steel packing robot

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Stainless steel Milk Robot

Kuka Robotics has installed what it claims is the first stainless
steel robot in a North American food plant, another sign of the
increasing automation in the sector.

Ergonomic concerns, labor costs and the need for flexibility are heightening interest in both hard automation and robotic systems on the packaging line, according to a report by PackExpo. Robots are receiving increased attention because prices have dropped, reliability is extremely high, and advanced software and controls simplify setup and operation.

Dean Foods' bought a Kuka KR 15 SL stainless steel robot for packaging dairy products at one of its manufacturing plant, Kuka reported.

"The robot is the first stainless steel robot to be installed in North America,"​ Kuka stated in a press release this week. "...Food manufacturing in particular requires extremely stringent sterility standards and stainless steel is the optimum material to meet these requirements."

Dean Foods originally came to Forte Automation Systems, a Kuka reseller, with the need to increase its case packing production using their current staff. The company found that the Kuka KR 15 SL with its stainless steel exterior would meet their wash down requirements and free up at least four employees.

"Food manufacturing workers are highly susceptible to work related injuries due to the highly repetitive nature of their work,"​ stated Bill Schaefer, Dean Foods' general manager. "Anytime you can move workers from tedious assignments to more mentally challenging ones the more productive you will be which is exactly what we wished to accomplish by adopting this new robot and process."

The Kuka KR 15 SL robot is a six-axis articulated robot is made of stainless steel. The use of stainless steel makes it suitable for all applications with stringent requirements for hygiene, sterility and absence of particles.

Dean Foods is one of the US' leading food and beverage companies. Its dairy group is the largest processor and distributor of fresh milk and other dairy products in the country.

Forte Automation Systems is a system integrator specializing in integrating robotic machines with case packaging, raw food processing, and palletizing for the food and beverage industry.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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