Baking Management: What makes Colborne Foodbotics' BBL systems the best technology for increasing pack density and improving product quality?
Rick Hoskins: Colborne Foodbotics installed its first system eight years ago. Since then, our engineers have worked with a variety of customers to develop a complete process that goes well beyond buying a piece of equipment. This process evaluates current pack patterns using our graphic software interface, POP (Pattern Optimization Program). We recommend appropriate patterns and work with the customer to prove these out in the plant before offering our BBL Cost Justification Program to help quantify savings.
Colborne Foodbotics BBL systems offer the most advanced and useful features of any bread loading system. First, the robots used in our system are perfectly matched to the application and typically operate close to 10 years with virtually no maintenance. Next, our vision inspection systems lead the industry in keeping unsealed product out of the delivery tray and operate with more than 99 percent accuracy. Our compression system is unique and provides gentle compression but also has the power to handle the densest of products. Our universal end effectors offer simple, easy-to-maintain pick and place mechanisms. Overall, our systems are customer rated at more than 99.96 percent operating efficiency, packing up to 100ppm.
BM: As pack density increases, how much more product can bakers expect to carry per load?
RH: To date, we have experienced cases where we can pack up to 20 percent more bread and 50 percent more buns into a delivery tray. Our combined research shows that there is an industry-wide opportunity to achieve at least 15 percent increase in bread and 25 percent in buns and rolls. The overall average would be in excess of 20 percent nationwide.
BM: What are the benefits of using Colborne Foodbotic's BBL, POP and increasing pack density?
RH: Traditional methods of packing bread products are inefficient and damage the product. Hand packing can improve pack density, but finger handling generally damages the product by leaving hand imprints. Virtually all traditional methods of automation, such as pattern formers and robotic pick and place, require significant clearance between the full product pack pattern and the delivery tray inside dimensions. This is the root cause of the inefficient pack density, since most patterns start with close to an inch of total clearance. By the time the trays arrive at the store, they have as much as 4 in. to 5 in. of clearance due to shrinkage, and the product has been subjected to a beating en route.
Colborne Foodbotics BBL systems provide carefully tested, gentle compression that allows us to preshrink the pattern without damage. The product travels securely, using its elastic properties to avoid being tossed around during shipment. Most all tests done thus far have shown that BBL systems improve product quality and provide excellent opportunities for substantial cost reduction.
BM: Have you ever encountered situations that result in little benefit from incorporating BBL systems into a particular operation?
RH: Yes, if a company only produces a few products that are larger in size there may be a less-than-adequate payback for investing in BBL. However, Colborne Foodbotics has recently introduced a more competitively priced BBL system that, because of increased standardization and simplified control options, offers the same features at competitive prices when compared with many traditional automated packing methods.
BM: Where do you get the biggest benefits from BBL systems?
RH: The biggest benefits come wherever you have a wide variety of products, including all sizes of products. Our BBL systems are very flexible and can be easily converted to new products to achieve optimum pack density from their inception. Furthermore, the smaller the product, the more pack patterns we can create that will further increase the pack density. Our biggest savings profiles come from these cases.