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Agrana Fruit is now using OAL’s APRIL robotic powder technology to automate its complex and manual weighing procedures for over 100 ingredients.
Agrana approached OAL in 2019 with a view to automating its complex, manual powder weighing operations. The original manual weighing process at Agrana Fruit involved two operators per shift who were responsible for carrying out the powder weighing operations.
This manual handling and RSI were two key pain points, while cross-contamination was a key quality risk.
Traditional materials handling auger-based systems couldn’t provide the flexibility required to automate this weighing process, as fewer than 20 ingredients could be ‘live’, and the weighing range was too restrictive.
Agrana needed a system that was capable of handling over 100 ingredients that could be dosed to an accuracy of +/-1% with a weighing range lower than 1 kg.
OAL has therefore implemented its patented APRIL weighing system which has exceeded the desired accuracy requirements. In operation, the system weighs powders from 250 g to 25 kg, significantly reducing the labour required. Over 95% of manual weighments have been automated with only additions under 250 g completed manually.
The target weighing accuracy for the project was +/-1%, whereas for most powders, an accuracy of +/-0.5% has been achieved. The project includes real-time ingredient traceability and tracking between Agrana’s ERP system, SAP and the APRIL weighing system. The system was fully built and tested at OAL’s HQ in Peterborough, including integration testing. And before the on-site delivery, the system had been fully debugged, to enable a fast start-up.
In terms of safety, quality and weighing accuracy, the APRIL cell fully delivers against our expectations, I would say that the relationship with OAL has been good to excellent; we’ve had a lot to learn about automation and robotics, and OAL has been supportive every step of the way.Ben Wissocq, Regional Operations Director at Agrana Fruit