As Foodtech Packtech 2021 gets underway, SMC Corporation has created a range of lightweight, compact and energy efficient products, which it will be showcasing at the food and packaging technology exhibition in Auckland.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technology have propelled the world into one that would have seemed like science fiction just a few decades ago. And, based on this, there has been a significant uptake in robotics for advanced automation, especially in manufacturing.

Today, advanced automation has brought to life lights-out manufacturing operations, with more robots now in charge of repetitive tasks in these factories with little to no human collaboration required.

The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated this process and more manufacturers are now implementing more robotics into their day-to-day operations.

According to Shyam Suresh, branch manager for SMC Corporation Auckland, robotics are being welcomed more and more by manufacturers big and small.

“Today it is all about efficient, quality manufacturing with no room for error. At the same time, manufacturers are thinking of new ways to ensure social distancing and to deal with challenges around shortened supply chains, lights-out manufacturing and reshoring,” explains Suresh.

“However, humans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that robots will never completely replace humans, as our ability to think strategically and invent is still very unique to us.”

Components and Robotics meet

Answering to the call by manufacturers for components to support robotic applications, SMC has released a range of lightweight, compact and energy efficient products.

“Just as technology evolves, so do we. We recognise the needs of our customers and develop solutions accordingly,” Suresh says.

“Flexibility, easy integration and fast operation are three key requirements that industry constantly demands. As such, we will showcase products that help customers achieve these three requirements.”

First up, the EX600-W (wireless) fieldbus system, which according to Shyam is the world’s first integrated wireless valve system, designed to benefit any robotic application. It offers less cables and connectors, less installation and maintenance, less breakage and disconnection risk, as well as an increase in machine availability (OEE) improvement.

Next up, SMC’s EX260 integrated fieldbus system, which is lightweight, offers quick connection time, and has the ability to be mounted directory onto a robot arm.

SMC also introduced its JSY series, a compact, flexible and lightweight solution that comes with one of the narrowest 5-port solenoid valve on the market, at just 6.4mm.

According to SMC, one of the most prominent features is that, despite its compact size, the JSY series can achieve an incredible flow rate of 170-1551 l/min.

For applications where suction pads and grippers will not perform optimally due to uneven or porous surfaces, SMC suggests the magnetic gripper (MHM series) as a possible solution.

In addition, SMC offers various other end-effectors and develops plug-and-play grippers and vacuum system for all robot suppliers.

“With a holding force of up to 1000N, it is a versatile solution with a great variety of applications for handling ferrous metals,” says Suresh.

“They are based on energy efficient and performance, with special focus on size and weight optimisation. The consideration of weight, overall dimensions and ergonomics assist machine wrist movements and avoid limiting its performance.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors to this much anticipated show and showcasing our hero range.”

SMC’s components can be used for robotic applications, such as welding, glass handling, gripping, lifting, vertical handling, vacuum manipulation, wrapped food transportation, energy efficient packaging, and more.

Food & Drink Business

The finalists for the Australia Post Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIAS) have been announced, with Lyre’s Spirits Co, Naked Wines Australia and Adventure Snacks representing local suppliers in the food and beverage sector.

Plant-based ingredients system start-up Harvest B is one of six manufacturers to receive funding in the first round of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre Commercialisation Fund.

Campos Coffee has been acquired by Dutch-based coffee and tea company JDE Peet's. It will join L’OR, Moccona and Piazza Doro in its Australian brand portfolio.