The demand for faster line speeds, lower labour costs and greater flexibility in handling multiple packaging formats has pushed the food industry toward greater automation. As part of that trend, plants are deploying more robotic systems. The Adept Quattro s650 robot is a collaboration between California-based Adept and Fundacion Fatronik, a privately funded European research company that developed the arms for the machine. Adept said that the first customer shipments of Quatro were made directly to Fundacion Fatronik. The Quattro s650 robot uses a patented four-link parallel drive and carbon fiber construction to provide packaging cycle times. The company claims it is twice as fast as conventional packaging robots and can do up to 240 pick-and-place cycles per minute. The Quattro s650 is also the world's first packaging robot to integrate the controls inside the machine, virtually eliminating external controls cabinets, the company claimed. This design saves on factory floor space and simplifies installation. The controls are made through Adept's SmartController platform, which provides vision and conveyor tracking for up to six conveyors. The platform allows the Quattro to be used on high speed packaging lines on which products are randomly located on moving conveyor belts. The Quattro features over-the-belt mounting, a 1,300mm work envelope and a 250 mm Z-stroke. It can be designed with a wash down option for use in plants where frequent cleaning is needed to prevent product contamination. Seema Gupta, Adept's packaging product manager, said the company is now taking orders for delivery in the second quarter of 2007. "The combination of Quattro's speed and the elimination of the complexity and expense of large external controls cabinets found in traditional packaging robots will bring a new level of throughput and flexibility to high speed packaging applications," he said. According to the ARC Advisory Group, there are about 250,000 food and pharmaceutical packaging lines in existence worldwide. Adept estimates the market for high speed packaging robots is between 1,000 to 1,500 robots or $50 to $100m per year.