Company spotlight Hungary: Leading food producer using new technology
Gyermelyi Group is the leading pasta producer and one of the key food industry enterprises of Hungary. In 2018, Gyermelyi Zrt. constructed a new pasta plant using an investment of HUF 7.2 billion, doubling the factory capacity to 70,000 metric tons a year.
Az automated high-bay warehouse capable of housing 11,600 palettes was also constructed next to the plant. Overall automation of this facility was performed using technology provided by ABB. Consequently, the pasta producer has become a key pasta producer center of the East and Central European Region.
Pasta production at the Gyermelyi Group started in 1971. Even before this upgrade, Gyermelyi pasta products have been produced in a high-tech plant commissioned in 2006. However, market expansion of the past years resulted in the utilization of built-in capacity reaching the maximum provided by this plant at the time. This called for a capacity upgrade in order to maintain the growth dynamics seen on the Hungarian and foreign markets. As a result, a new pasta plant and warehouse center of the same size was constructed next to the existing plant.
The investment started with the construction of the new, automated high-bay warehouse, doubling the existing warehouse capacity: more that 3000 of the 8200 bays in the new warehouse are capable of storing double palettes. The capacity of the production line producing pasta pieces is 4000 kg/h, and the capacity of the production line producing threaded pasta is 3500 kg/h.
ABB has designed and installed a high performance automated sorting and palletizing system for the warehouse. This works without the use of human staff. Finished products are transported from the manufacturing area using elevators to the conveyor tracks running along the hall. Nearly 280 meters of track was installed during the implementation of the project. Products in bags and in boxes have a separate route. Several types of products to be moved from the production hall to the warehouse can be routed to each track during production. In the warehouse, the system uses a monitoring camera system to recognize the products arriving, then an automated sorting system routes them to a robotic palletization cell selected on the human-machine interface (HMI).
The robotic palette system consists of a total of five robots, two of which are robots capable of palletizing boxed products, while two are capable of palletizing bagged products, and one robot provides the palettes to the palletizing robots.
Two different boxed products can palletized at the same time, while the bag systems are capable of managing one type each at a time. The robots are equipped with unique servo powered manipulators, which provide for the setting of sizes and distances required for each product. During the design of the complete system, the main consideration was the highest degree of flexibility possible, as there are many types of products packaged in boxes and bags of significantly varying sizes, and the system must be capable of handling all of them from the smallest to the largest.
How to manage empty palettes
The quick and efficient palletizing of goods also requires that the supply of empty palettes be automated. This has been made possible by using a palette dispenser moving on a 21 meter long linear track. This robot is able to move to the work area of all four palletizing robots, and provides for the continuous supply of palettes. Each cell is also equipped with a puffer for the storage of palettes so that the process does not come to a halt even in the case of minor malfunctions. The system is capable of managing both EUR and CHEP palettes. These are again verified by the robot based on their color during admission, and placed to a moving palette storage next to the robotic arm. Following this, the palettes and the robot move together on the linear track to the palletizing cell which has notified the system that a new, empty palette is needed.
During the investment, the most recent cutting edge technology was installed in both the production and the packaging lines. By introducing the ABB technology, Gyermelyi has upgraded to a completely automated system and flexible product management, one which is user friendly and is based on industrial robots with a HMI. This technology accelerates the production process, and has brought a previously unused, forward looking solution to Hungarian food industry.
Gyermelyi as dominant pasta producer
Following the development, the capacity of the two pasta plants has increased to 70,000 metric tons per year, which is above the size of the complete Hungarian market. As a result, Gyermelyi has become a dominant pasta producer center of the East and Central European Region.
“We are aware of the diversity of our own market, and have therefore sought flexible solutions when establishing the new palletizing plant. Naturally, in addition to the technical specifications of the system, one important consideration behind our decision was that ABB has significant experience in the area of palletization. Its engineers and construction partners have the appropriate expertise, and another very important consideration for us was the Hungarian service background”, said Csaba Pósfai, director of the Gyermelyi factory.
The secret behind the success of the Gyermelyi Group is that a large portion of the profits generated are invested into the constant development of the technology applied and the quality management system. The Group has invested over HUF 26 billion since 2010. Pasta sales have increased dynamically during recent years. The company is expected to sell 36,000 tons of pasta this year, 30 % of which will be sold abroad, mostly within the European Union.