Robot arm eliminates risk of contamination

Three companies from Odense Robotics have joined forces to deliver new robot technology to MedicoPack. The collaborative robot technology – a Universal Robot arm with an On Robot gripper delivered by BILA Robotics – enables the plastic company to ensure that the products they manufacture and deliver to the pharmaceutical industry globally meet the highest hygiene standards.  

“We have a strong focus on ensuring that our manufacturing environment is absolutely clean and the same applies to the products we manufacture. We wanted a new setup so we reduce the risk of contamination even more,” says Kenneth Sæderup Petersen, project leader at MedicoPack, a company on Funen that develops and manufactures plastic packaging for the pharmaceutical industry such as plastic bottles for medicine and drip bags.

In spring 2017, MedicoPack contacted BILA Robotics to optimise two production lines for drip bags. The company’s executive management had decided to enhance production with UR robots, but were uncertain which models were most suitable. After a close dialogue with BILA Robotics, MedicoPack ordered two UR5 robots to solve the same task on two production lines: Stacking drip bags prior to packaging.

“The finished hospital drip bags used to be collected in an open container, where they were manually controlled, stacked and packaged. We were sure we could improve this process, in terms of efficiency and reducing the risk of contamination,” says Kenneth Sæderup Pedersen, emphasising that as a supplier to the pharmaceutical industry, MedicoPack strives for the highest hygiene standards.

More hygienic and effective

While one of the UR5 robots is waiting to be installed, the other was installed in January in a newly built stacking system as part of a production line that manufactures around 12,000 drip bags daily.

Here the robot ensures that the finished drip bags are stacked correctly and ready to be packaged. When the product has been assembled and controlled, they are sent along a conveyor belt to the UR robot arm, which together with an On Robot gripper picks two units at a time and stacks them in bundles of ten.

In addition, the UR5 robot with On Robot gripper has made production more efficient. Employees at the conveyer belt no longer have to count the bags and ensure that they lie correctly. The robot does that for them.

”Not only have we got rid of the open container and thereby considerably reduced an already low risk of contamination. We also save a lot of time because the employees at the conveyer belt know that the units lie correctly and are stacked in the right amount,” says Kenneth Sæderup Pedersen.