The Unilever plant in Buenos Aires, Argentina, needed to increase throughput on one of its production lines for boxes of Hellman’s condiments. Space restrictions prevented the current manual palletizing setup from accommodating additional workers, and the old technology of flat belts and plastic chains could not handle the increase in throughput required for this line. In order to meet the goal of 100,000 boxes per day, 24 hours a day, six days a week, the plant chose to move from manual to robotic palletizing.
Intralox worked with local integrator Quintino to define the best line layout and determine how Intralox technology could solve Unilever’s problems within the plant’s limitations. Quintino previously installed Intralox and Activated Roller Belt™ (ARB™) technology in another area of this plant, which proved to be very successful.
The Intralox solution proposed was a low-maintenance, reliable, and flexible system that optimizes the available footprint using a combination of modular plastic belting (MPB) and ARB technology. The installation includes accumulation conveyors equipped with S400 Roller Top™ belts; ARB technology for 90-degree passive transfers, aligners, and case turners; as well as MPB for radius and incline conveyors.
The Intralox solution has enabled automation of the area, allowing Unilever to achieve its production goals on this line while simultaneously reducing the risk of production jams. The S400 Roller Top belt allows accumulation prior to the robots, giving the line flexibility and reduces the risk of line stops. ARB technology enables the required functionality, including box orientation ahead of robotic palletizers, while maximizing the allotted footprint. Productivity has increased significantly since the installation, peaking at 95% with three supervisors instead of six people per line for eight lines.
“The system works so well that we almost forget it exists. It needs zero maintenance and attention,” says Justo Gonzalez, Maintenance Manager. Engineering Manager Jorge Daluz says, “We are so satisfied with the technology that we are now expanding Phase 2 of the plant utilizing the same technology and integrator.”