Automated system delivers packages and profits
EUREKA project E! 2007 FACTORY PACK 2000 developed much more than a new packaging process for large items such as furniture and stone flooring. The system includes an advanced vision system, uses only one recyclable packaging material, offers additional environmental benefits by using less material and producing less waste - and is set to generate a 30% increase in turnover for the Italian lead partner, Aetna.
The project initially developed a new recyclable plastic packaging material which can be used as beads or compacted into boards. This new material was then used in a highly efficient and intelligent automated packaging machine for large items which features an advanced system to identify the next item to be packed and ensures quality control.
The scanning vision system, a key part of the project’s success, was developed by the Turkish project partners, Sabanci University and Vistek in Istanbul.
It operates in 3D and consists of two cameras, a laser and special software developed in the project. “The 3D scanner measures the width, length and height of the item to be packed, constructs a 3D surface model of it and provides a feedback signal to the packing machine controls, which then guide the robots fitting the protection material onto the package,” explains Professor Aytul Ercil, Director of the Computer Vision Laboratory at Sabanci University.
The vision system also plays a quality control role by inspecting the product and the packing process, and providing continuous feedback to the real-time packing management system.
The new packaging solution, managed by the process supervisor and developed by the Turkish partner EST, competes with existing ones on price and offers additional eco-benefits. “Eco-efficiency is improved through a reduction in the number and volume of materials necessary and by allowing easy recovery, re use and recycling of packaging materials,“ says Giuseppe Lucisano, the project leader at Aetna.
Aetna expects a 30% increase in turnover as a result of this project and found the EUREKA collaboration extremely beneficial. “Aetna had previously attempted to enter the packaging market in the 1990s, but failed because we lacked the innovative know-how. Now, thanks to EUREKA, and our Turkish and Spanish partners, it has finally been possible,” says Lucisano.
Ercil agrees: “EUREKA enabled us to meet people from different backgrounds, but with similar objectives. This collaboration helped us to understand any problem in more detail and to find solutions more quickly.”
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