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Quick-release valve, vacuum ejector and suction cup

A recipe for less down time, fewer cakes dropped and increased production


When a large snack food company closed its doors, a rival company decided that this was their opportunity to dominate the snack cake arena and to facilitate improvements in all areas. This company took over a certain brand from the original company and transferred a lot of equipment to their plants. One area needing improvement was the end of line palletizing robots. In this facility, there are 8 robots with 175 suction cups working 24/7 loading boxes of snack cakes orderly onto pallets to ship to retailers. The palletizing operation dictated the speed of the production line due to the vacuum system they were using as well as the vacuum cups. Due to poor vacuum and the type of cups used, line speed was reduced to maintain throughput without dropping boxes. The cups were basically a one size fit all and did not focus on the way the palletizer tool had to operate with the different size boxes being handled.


A decentralized approach to vacuum was needed versus the centralized, loud operating mechanical pumps they were using. Superior vacuum with fast part release was achieved with an integrated COAX® cartridge in a specialized suction cup mount that used a Piab Atmospheric Quick-Release valve (AQR). This was an important part of the upgrade and it did aid in speeding up the cycle time, it was in addition to the Piab win over the vacuum cups needed on palletizers to pick and place boxes of snack cakes at speed without dropping and most importantly, the longevity of the life of the cup.


After making numerous plant visits and supplying the company with numerous trials of Piab products and a personal visit from the Piab Area Sales Manager, Piab has become spec for this customer due to sizing the tool properly with a combination of 52mm and 75mm BX type Piab cups designed for corrugated material. Piab's suction cups were less expensive to purchase and were lasting an additional 4 months in production, providing a savings in cost of operation.

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