A year ago, we would not have considered it possible for a picker line to package champagne bottles. That is, until we received an order from Veuve Cliquot, along with the idea of placing the high-quality product into cardboard cartons directly using F44 robots. The original plan was for a grouping chain to group the 150 bottles per minute, as there was no requirement for flexibility with regard to the products.
Grouping chains not only lack flexibility, but also have other disadvantages. The products are not handled gently while being grouped, and the bottles ahead of the grouping chain must be rejected or backed up when the machine (and thus the grouping chain) is stopped. Rejecting champagne bottles certainly isn't a good idea, and a backup would mean that the bottles run into one another. The requirement that the labels on the bottles not be touched by the machine was a particular source of headache for us.
When the idea to replace the grouping chain with F44 robots arose during the design meeting, everyone was immediately thrilled and the decision was made to use F44s. However, a new challenge for the picker line was posed by champagne bottles, which weigh 1.7 kilograms and also had to be swiveled 90 degrees. To make sure that 150 bottles could be packaged per minute by six F4 arms, testing was carried out before the machine was built. The result was a fine packaging machine capable of a level of efficiency of over 98 percent in dayto- day production thanks to a small number of simple functions.
The machine is narrow and easily accessible. The Transmodules on the left transport the boxes, the Transmodules in the middle transport the cardboard cartons and the product belt on the right transports the champagne bottles. The cardboard cartons are erected by an F2 robot and placed into a tool on the Transmodule. The shape of the tool secures the cardboard cartons, which eliminates any need to glue the carton. Once the cardboard cartons have been put in place, the Transmodule sets off and joins a group of several Transmodules which move together like a chain. The group of Transmodules run in the opposite direction of the products. The speed of the group is controlled by the F44 robots, which place the bottles into the cardboard cartons with the required orientation.
A special function of this machine is the provision of a batch number on the bottom of the bottles. The numbers are burned in by two laser printers while the Transmodule slowly moves past them. This additional function was ordered by the customer after the machine had already been constructed in the assembly hall. Thanks to the flexibility of the TLM machines, the customer's wish could be fulfilled before the packaging machine was delivered.
A protocol from Veuve Cliquot is further evidence of this flexibility. Since the Veuve Cliquot company had no prior experience with TLM machines, and due to a fear of reductions in efficiency during the startup phase after a size change, the original idea was to purchase a machine for only one size. The machine was then ordered with two sizes. One sentence on the pre-acceptance protocol from Veuve Cliquot was printed in bold letters: “Readjustment is not required after a size change”.