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ABB packaging application experts were on hand at interpack to demonstrate the latest solutions to help manufacturers pick, pack and palletise with greater agility to meet increasingly diverse consumer needs and shorter product cycles. The theme of ABB’s booth was ’’Collaboration and Digitisation: Revolutionising packaging automation for the factory of the future.”

Collaboration between robots, equipment and automation systems can unlock greater flexibility and efficiency in processing and packaging. ABB displayed a packaging cell that boxes products at high speed while synchronising a conveyor with an ABB robot, achieving the optimum balance of speed and motion.

The highest levels of packaging performance and reliability come from connecting collaborative automation solutions in the digital space. interpack guests were able to see how ABB Ability™ Connected Services can harness the intelligence from single robots or entire fleets to reduce incidents by up to 25% and speed response and recovery by up to 60 percent. Unplanned packaging system downtime can create costly bottlenecks and production delays as well as product safety risks in sectors such as food and beverage.

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“What we are hearing from many customers is that automation systems that met their packaging needs for many years are no longer able to keep up with the unprecedented demand for greater product and package variety, or for increasingly compressed product lifecycles. ABB is helping customers in fast moving industries such as food, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods improve their ability to accommodate change efficiently while avoiding costly downtime – this is at the heart of the ‘factory of the future’,” said Per Vegard Nerseth, MD of ABB Robotics.

ABB also introduced a new food grade variant of its IRB 1200 compact robot. The IRB 1200 combines fast cycle times and long reach with the shortest turning radius in its class. This allows the robot to be close to processes and other equipment without interfering with operations, which makes cells faster and more flexible while using less valued floor space.

The new IRB 1200 variant joins ABB’s IRB 360 and IRB 120 robots to create a portfolio of small robots uniquely designed for the food sector. They are supported by advanced ABB AbilityTM Connected Services and a broad array of grippers and accessories; as well as machine safety equipment, and ABB’s complete motion control offering including drives, motors and PLC controllers.