ABB FlexPicker & VARO pack more than 350,000 cans of mackerel – every single day

Sæby Fiske-Industri produces 97-107 million cans of mackerel annually. Two VARO packing systems using ABB FlexPickers prepare these products for display and sale. 

When you visit Sæby Fiske-Industri south of Frederikshavn, the row of canned mackerel seems to go on forever. In the large packing room, the cans move swiftly side by side along the conveyor belts until they are snatched up – almost too quickly for the eye to follow – and placed in display cardboard boxes by an ABB FlexPicker.

The packing system runs so quickly that the five Flexpicker robots along the packing line can handle 400 cans per minute – the same as the adjacent packing line. Over the course of the day, it comes out to well over 350,000 cans, or about 100 million per year.


Flexible solution

VARO from Hornslet near Aarhus developed, produced and delivered the two fully-automated packing systems to Sæby Fiske-Industri. The most recent was put into operation in the spring of 2018.

Our pick & place packing system with ABB FlexPicker robots carry out complex sorting and packaging tasks. The system can handle quick changes between different types of packaging and between different patterns for packaging and palletising. They can also handle different trays and cardboard boxes, including environmentally-friendly glue and tape-free packaging, which are in demand from an increasing number of supermarket chains,” explains Marketing Coordinator Julia Geier Nielsen from VARO.

An eye for detail

At Sæby Fiske-Industri, the packing system is equipped with an X-ray device that detects metal and other foreign materials before the cans are sent for date printing and to the vision unit. Here, a check is performed to identify any deviations on the actual can, for instance with regard to the artwork and text. Then, the cans are quickly moved to the packing unit. Here, a box erector makes sure that the ABB FlexPickers are continuously supplied with cardboard boxes for the cans. The packaging is optimised for the system, and it is developed in cooperation with the packaging company DS Smith and Sæby Fiske-Industri. The packaging is also display and sale-ready, thus requiring the least possible handling on the retail side. Finally, a glue-free box top is “clicked” into place on the final packaging, whereupon a robot places the display boxes into a transport pallet. When the pallet is full, it is taken to foiling and then to an intermediate storage.

The cans are kept in an incubation storage facility for seven days to make sure that they have been sterilised correctly,” explains Kent Christiansen, who is the Technical Manager at Sæby Fiske-Industri and in charge of the packing system.

With packing robots, we have improved efficiency and eliminated manual tasks that cause repetitive strain injury. Our employees are very pleased about this, and they can now focus on other work, including servicing the robots and filling boxes at the packing stations,” says Kent Christiansen.

Quick to react

With regard to service, Kent Christiansen emphasises VARO’s flexibility:

They react immediately and come quickly when we need technical assistance or when we need to align or calibrate the parameters. They fully understand and respect that our production has to run constantly and consistently. The systems are therefore optimised on an ongoing basis, and they are actually tuned to exceed performance expectations. This is necessary because we are experiencing an increase in demand for products for the private label market, while at the same time we have to quite literally be prepared for change – and the new systems allow just that."

Read more about VARO's pick and place packaging line here. 

Learn more about ABB's Flexpicker Robots here. 

Read the original article from ABB Denmark customer magasine Connect #2, 2018 here. (In Danish)

Europe's leading producer of mackarel

A/S Sæby Fiske-Industri is Europe’s leading producer of private label mackerel canned goods and the only provider of canned mackerel made in Denmark. On an annual basis, this comes out to 97-105 million cans, of which about 85 percent are exported to supermarket chains in Europe.

Placed in a row, the cans would circle the moon!

Sæby Fiske-Industri is the only producer in the world that only uses warm water to loosen the skin. This eliminates the use of chemicals, such as caustic soda and hydrochloric acid. The mackerel can is heat-treated during sealing, which provides a long shelf life, naturally and entirely without preservatives.

> Read more about Sæby Fiske-Industri A/S here. 


Niels Jensen CEO & Sales Director, Europe

+45 21 72 59 89
Lars Øbro Sales Director, Americas & Asia

+1 (281) 777 5115

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