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Nordic Sugar

Robots ensure uniform analysis of sugar beets

The global population is growing so fast that, over the next 40 years, we will have to produce more food than we have ever done in the past 8,000 years.  Never before has the need for productivity been so great. Solutions to such challenges rely on field to fork innovation – new technology and new ways to make use of data.

Nordic Sugar’s factory in Örtofta is one of Europe’s largest sugar factories. By implementing robot arms in the factory, Nordic Sugar is ensured both flexibility and ease of use at an affordable price.

To ensure that every farmer is paid properly, Nordic Sugar’s factory in Örtofta, Sweden, tests the purity and sugar content of each shipment of sugar beets delivered. During the relatively short sugar beet season of four months, 45.000 tests are taken. On top of that, the factory analyses 35.000 samples for external partners as well. The sheer scale of these tests is therefore rather big.

Robots were already implemented in the company back in 1993 to ease the monotonous work. There was a problem though: Any adjustments to the robots managing the sugar tests were to be done by a specialist called in, which quickly became a very expensive venture.

Keep it simple, robots

The solution was found with Danish robotics company Universal Robots. Universal Robots specializes in collaborative robots, that support workers on the production line – in short, helpful robotic arms! Emphasizing the collaborative, Universal Robots’ robotic arms are programmable by the employees managing them. This eases up any changes in production, cutting costs for calling in specialists.

Specifically, Nordic Sugar has implemented three UR5-robots and is expecting to implement three more before 2022. The robots are now helping scanning barcodes and picking containers with sugar tests to and from scales and filters.

Short payback time

The robotic arms are making life easier at Nordic Sugar’s factory. The monotonous work is being handled by deceptively simple robots, sparing employees. In addition to that, maintenance expenses are reduced to practically zero, since the robots are easily programmed by employees. Surprisingly, the payback time for acquiring the robotic arms to the factory was rather low. This means that Nordic Sugar could implement the new robots and recover the expenses in about four months.

Source: Universal Robots