Automation of a Packaging Process

University essay from Umeå universitet/Institutionen för matematik och matematisk statistik

Author: Jens Hulgaard; [2020]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: Automation is the future. Sometime in the future, warehouses will be fully automated. Already today, many warehouses around the world have reached a high degree of automation. This master's thesis project aims to evaluate how a warehouse site within Chr. Hansen Holding A/S can take one step further in this direction. Chr. Hansen Holding A/S is a global bioscience company.  The packaging process currently relies primarily on manual labor, and the focus is to investigate methods to improve this process through automation. The process of packing goods on a pallet consists of the following steps; transport to the packing area, label the products, move the products to a new pallet, measure, apply protection, wrap, label the pallet, and transport to temporary storage.  In order to automate a process, some degree of standardization is needed, but many parameters constrain this development. An important parameter is variation in terms of material and packaging, both interior and exterior, such as pallet type. The packaging process can be divided into a number of subfunctions by Function Analysis. Together with Process Activity Mapping, the study suggests that the relevant part of automating is the last part of the packing process, from the step wrap mentioned earlier.  The project has developed five different concepts. All of the concepts include a fully-automatic wrapping machine. The five concepts have different methods of transporting finished pallets to storage at the other end of the warehouse. The investigated transport methods are various lengths of conveyor belts, an automated guided forklift (AGV), a combined conveyor belt-AGV solution, and human-operated forklifts.  The study suggests a solution with a fully automated wrapping machine followed by a 9 m conveyor belt followed by transport with a human-operated forklift. The wrapping machine should include modules for labeling and weight and height measuring. The improvement is most likely to reduce cost packing by 460,000 DKK per year calculated in fixed prices of 2019. It requires an investment of 1,500,000 DKK.  The project finds that the wrapping machine is the most beneficial part of the concepts, but an AGV solution could be an interesting addition with a great future perspective. The company should follow the development of AGV technology in relation to warehousing.  Furthermore, the project improves safety in the warehouse by reducing the forklift traffic in the packaging area.

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