Japanese FANUC robot gets official UK debut

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

The M-2iA robot
The M-2iA robot

Related tags Food Hygiene Robotics Uk

FANUC’s M-2iA pick and place robot is available in Japan and the US, with its official UK debut this week with operator training at a revamped facility in Coventry.

The £25k ($40k) machine can handle a 3kg payload and is ideal for handling unpackaged and raw foods including placement of products into trays and assembly operations.

It works up to 220 cycles per minute with a wrist rotation of 3,500 degrees per second.

High pressure washdown

John Rainer, sales manager, FANUC, told FoodProductionDaily the four axis M-2iA pick and place delta style robot is one of the few IP69K certified robot systems on the market able to withstand high pressure and temperature washdowns.

It is a common known fact that people are the biggest risk to hygiene in a food plant. The M-2iA combats this problem by handling raw and unpackaged foods​,” he said.

The biggest challenge for us when designing these robots is cleanliness and speed of operation but the two don’t always go together. For example, a stainless steel robot is too heavy and can’t work fast enough, there is always a thin line between creating a material that is suitable and greater speed​.

Crying out for automation

FANUC_The new M-2iA food grade IP69K system improves food safety and hygiene when packing unpackaged or raw food into trays

The food industry is like the car industry was 30 years ago, heavily manned and crying out for automation on menial tasks and we are looking to capitalize on that​.”

Operator training courses will take place at FANUC’s 3,000m² Coventry based European headquarters, which has recently undergone a complete refurbishment.

The facility will train people to work on five robots in a lab, which is connected to the company network, to operate them remotely and program them.

Southern Manufacturing exhibition

FANUC will be attending the Southern Manufacturing and Electronics Exhibition 2014​, in Farnborough, UK, in February.

The robot has a 25-year guarantee and comes in two sizes, standard or long reach, with a cylindrical work envelope of 400mm deep and 1,130mm in diameter.

Rainer said robot uptake in the food industry has grown within the last five years, with producers looking to enhance their competitive edge using high speed, accurate and agile systems

IP67K certified robots have been around for many years, but the very nature of a robot arm, with its many crevices and less durable construction materials, has in the past prevented it from working in harsh environments. Any sort of good practice is to avoid dirt traps, which is difficult with moving machinery​.

Our focus is on hardening our robots with a durable epoxy coating for sanitation, making them able to withstand high pressure water hose cleaning​.”

The M-2iA is controlled by the R-30i​B controller​, and features iRVision, real time interactive iPendant Touch, Learning Vibration Control (LVC) for path optimisation and auto motor braking.

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