Farm News

The gentle touch…

Sunrise Eggs gentle giant farming robotic machinery.

It’s the gentle touch here at Sunrise Eggs…from robots. 
A revolutionary robot has proved the perfect end of line solution for packing our eggs.

The system we had recently installed at Sileby is capable of moving 70,000 eggs per hour onto pallets.

The system features a four tray pickup robot head, capable of picking up and palletising 720 eggs in a single rotation. The four tray pick-up head was chosen as the best solution to work in unison with the high throughput and speed of an existing system.

Configured in a ‘two on the floor’ layout, the robot is able to palletise an entire pallet of eggs and continue onto a second without any interruptions, explained our Commercial Manager, Chris Stocks.

“The sorting and palletising of the eggs is now completed 45 % faster than previously. Removing the need for hand palletising from our daily schedule has allowed our staff more husbandry time for the birds”.

The ABB IRB 6400 Robot was installed by Wales-based RM Group, designers, manufacturers and suppliers of a wide range of manual and automated packaging machinery and systems. It makes light work of handling eggs; with precision programming the robot is able to pick up trays of eggs with great accuracy. The bespoke robot heads are designed to fit the egg trays contours and the eggs are gently moved from accumulator to pallet with smooth precision.

The RM Group solution removed any risk of distortion that occurs to the tray when palletised by hand – which could lead to breakages. Strategically placed sensors ensure the tray is clear of the forks before the robot fully retracts, eliminating the possibility of damage.

This new machine is at the end of three laying houses in a collection area. Eggs are conveyed loose from the hens over the Moba Farmpacker we installed last year.

The Moba Farmpacker turns them all the correct way (points down) and staff are able to remove ‘seconds’ manually at this stage. They are then automatically packed onto plastic trays of 30 eggs each and automatically stacked.

The new robot lifts four stacks of six trays at a time – that’s 720 eggs per lift – and turns and stacks them onto specially made plastic pallets. Every twelve stacks – that’s four lifts – it makes a layer and a plastic divider is placed on top – by the robot. This leaves only the replacement of the pallet to be done by hand.

After four layers made up of 8,640 eggs, the pallet is full and the process starts again. And all the eggs are presented straight every time.

But there’s no question of robots replacing people at Sunrise Eggs; we employ around 80 people and it has actually added jobs since the first installation last year.

Automating repetitive processes and making production more time and energy efficient means we continuously improve our processes.

But care of our flocks, the maintenance of quality standards and dealing with customers and suppliers, are all jobs that only great staff can do – no matter how gentle and efficient the robot might be.

“And robots need to be very carefully maintained, which also requires more specially trained staff,” said our Chris.