Can automated packaging lines learn?

Published on Wednesday 31 January 2018 (8:35am)

The march of the robots is well under way.

According to recent research, the global packaging robots market is set to grow at a compound annual rate of almost 10 per cent between now and 2021. And it is set to go far beyond the Hollywood ideas about AI and robots in Blade Runner and Terminator.

In fact, awareness of robotics in packaging is affecting all parts of the manufacturing value chain.

There is an increasing demand for industrial robots in industries such as food and beverage, electronics and semiconductor, and pharmaceutical industries. This market growth is coming from the need to drive down operational costs whilst maintaining margins.

Thanks to these industrial robots’ abilities – such as easy installation, maintenance and the reduction of labour costs – the packaging industry is also seeing a growth in packaging robots. As these robots can work autonomously, without any human intervention, the incorporation of packaging robots for various applications is on the rise.

The need to drive value throughout the production process is also influencing the uptake of increasingly sophisticated automatic weighing solutions at the other end of the value chain. There is little point in driving down costs in one part, by using automation, if you ignore others and lose efficiencies in these parts of the process.

For example, producers usually include a one per cent “giveaway” per pack. So, a 100g pack would contain an average 101g. This additional one gram is a “giveaway” which ultimately reduces margins and increases material costs.

However, when using automatic weighing – such as Yamato’s automatic multihead weighing solutions and checkweighers, production lines can weigh 100.1g accuracy when weighing 100g. Using these solutions, they can reduce approximately one per cent in giveaway. And, of course, a one per cent reduction of giveaway for users can also be a one per cent reduction of material costs.

At Yamato, we are embracing Industry 4.0 principles in technology development. By adopting enhanced automation, customers can experience the benefits of the latest developments in the speed and accuracy of Yamato Scale’s automatic weighing.

The development of improved accuracy of Yamato automatic weighing machines enables a saving on materials. Producers can, therefore, sell more packs using the same amount of materials, which has a direct influence on return on investment and profit margins.

But, with the increase in demand for AI, could weighing machines ‘learn’? Could this artificial intelligence proactively dictate a reduction in giveaways without any human interface?

It’s not entirely impossible. It would need to gather data from the production line, process it and act on it independently. But it is not as far off as you might think…

Would you like more information on our latest Yamato Scale automatic multihead weighing solutions [] and checkweighers? [] Get in touch to find out more.