Headquartered in Secaucus, NJ, Hartz Mountain makes and markets approximately 1,500 pet care products. Their offering includes nutritional supplements for birds, over-the-counter animal healthcare items, and toys and training aids for dogs and cats. It also caters to parakeets, parrots, cockatiels, finches, ferrets, chinchillas, reptiles, canaries, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits. Hartz Mountain’s pet products are sold through over 40,000 US and Canadian retail outlets.
The company was experiencing labor shortage problems. There was a specific need for operators to load tubes of product into their blister seal packaging machines. The system ran approximately two dozen tubed products from the “Ultraguard” line of products (ear mite, flea & tick, etc. for dogs and cats). The tube sizes range from 2cc to 7.8cc. Operators were relied upon to correctly load all of the products per blister within cycle time. When the idea of automating the blister packaging process was explored, the items being packaged presented some challenges due to only minor color and shape differences.
The Remtec team was able to develop an automated robotic system to meet the customer’s blister packing process needs. A customized picking robot system was designed with a high speed, 6-axis articulated robot and two SCARA robots, as well as machine vision and high speed line tracking. These combined technologies allow randomly oriented products to be picked and placed at rates up to 108 tubes per minute and various groups of finished blister packs to be loaded into retail trays.
The packaging equipment load and unload automation system picks and loads finished products into retail packaging equipment and unloads the packaged product which will move on to case packing and ultimately palletizing for shipment.
The Remtec-designed system delivered the speed and reliability the customer needed along with the following benefits:
- General production increased from an average of 15k units/shift to 18k units per shift.
- Elimination of manually mis-loaded components that resulted in zero product cycle
- Grouping of products in stacks for faster tray loading
- Significant decrease in downshifts due to lack of operators
- No downshifts due to missing operators; line production rate no longer variable based on available labor
- Stabilization in production output has made production planning much easier
Before the implementation of the automated system, the process required seven operators and the efficiency rate was 75%. After the system was installed, only three operators were needed and the process efficiency rate increased to 95%, which resulted in significant annual cost savings and quick ROI.
As a supplier, Remtec offers the advantage of extensive experience in developing robotic product inspection systems. This includes expertise in the area of 2D machine vision robot guidance. We are a Certified Systems Integrator for FANUC, Cognex, and Keyence, industry leaders in robotic technology. Our specialization includes accreditation as a FANUC Certified Vision Specialist. Contact us to discuss the benefits we can offer you as your robotic automation partner.