Robotic Arms Help Carlsberg in the Fight for Zero Accidents
Two UR robotic arms from BILA Robotics help brewers at Carlsberg brewery in Fredericia tackle the remaining manual work processes on an already highly automated production line. The robots have freed-up nearly 50 percent capacity on the line and brought Carlsberg one step closer to its goal of zero accidents.
In the fall of 2017, Carlsberg brewery in Fredericia introduced two extra robotic arms in production: two Universal Robots arms, which today handle up to 500 packaging cartons per hour on a line that packs bottles and cans filled with the world-famous beer.
"The entire line that the UR robots are a part of now consists of highly automated technology within draft beer production. We want to be at the leading edge of technology, to brew both for today and for tomorrow. That is our goal," explains Senior Project Manager at Carlsberg Fredericia, Thomas Kern Ruby.
Originally, the new line was designed without the UR robots, which meant we had a man to take the package cartons from a pallet and place them in a feeder magazine.
"The high degree of automation means that human involvement on the line is at an absolute minimum. This way we hope to come a step closer to avoiding accidents entirely, which is a key element in Carlsberg's sustainability program. We want to look out for our employees, and the new UR robots eliminate the repetitive, hard and monotonous lifting work.
It quickly became clear to us, therefore, that there was a need to automate the packaging handling, as well. So we did.
We contacted different robot manufacturers and found that the UR robots were a perfect match for the task, in part because they are flexible and don't require screening", Ruby explain..
Cooperation produced optimal solution
After being contacted by Carlsberg Fredericia, Area Manager Steen Slabiak Jensen of BILA Robotics held a small introductory workshop for Carlsberg technicians and management:
"Initially, the aim was to get staff to understand the benefits of collaborative automation versus automation with large industrial robots, which is often a far more complex, slower and heavier process," he explains.
Next, he contacted a business partner from the automation firm Robot Nordic and told him about the project. The two visited the brewery in Fredericia once again for a more thorough inspection and, together, came up with the final solution, which Robot Nordic very successfully implemented in the fall of 2017.
Today, it is the two UR robotic arms that prepare the packaging cartons for packing with the draft beer products on the highly automated line at the Carlsberg plant. First, a UR10 robotic arm grabs a stack of 10 cartons, which are bound together by a strap, and lifts the stack up to the other robotic arm, a UR3. This arm cuts the strap and puts it in a trash bag. Next, the UR10 takes over again, feeding the stack into an empty magazine, which is transported over into a carton lifter, where the cartons are filled.
Carlsberg is a specialty company. We knew we had to deliver the best of the best. It was demanding, but there has been excellent and highly constructive cooperation among all parties–Carlsberg, Bila Robotics and Robot Nordic", says Steen Slabiak Jensen.
Improved work environment
Since January 2009, the majority of Carlsberg's beer and soft drink production for the Danish market has taken place at the brewery in Fredericia, which is today one of the area's largest workplaces, with approx. 800 employees and annual production which, in 2017, reached 6.5 million hL. For the South Jutland Carlsberg brewery, the investment in the two UR robots was not a question of increasing production capacity, but rather about a desire to use its human resources more suitably and to spare them monotonous tasks.
"Our primary bottleneck is always the filling of bottles and cans, because the process can't go any faster without it affecting the product, and we never compromise on quality", says Thomas Kern Ruby, explaining that the UR robots were purchased in the aim of using human resources more suitably and improving the work environment on the line:
The investment in the two UR robots hasn't been a question of increasing production capacity, but rather of providing relief to staff and improving their work environment. We have a goal of zero accidents in Carlsberg's sustainability program, and the robots help achieve that. First and foremost, by automating a monotonous task which, in addition to an unhealthy work posture also involved handling a knife and thus a risk of cutting oneself", explains Ruby.
In the past, the work took 70-80 percent of one employee's capacity on the line. Today the employee's only task in connection with packaging handling is to transport a pallet with cardboard boxes over to the production line. The robots do the rest. This has meant that the line can easily be managed today by just two operators, who continuously carry out work such as tests, hygiene, troubleshooting, etc.
UR10 & UR3