To help Orma Srl, a Sicilian confectionery company, to more efficiently manage the process of pulling the cannoli from the baking cylinders and boxing them, while preserving the integrity of the delicate product.
System integrator Demur has developed an intelligent automated solution using two FANUC LR Mate robots equipped with vision system, one dedicated to stripping and the other to packaging.
The introduction of the two FANUC robots has enabled Orma to handle up to 7,000 cannoli per hour, increasing production efficiency and supporting the company's growth ambitions.
The Italian food industry is the second largest industry in Italy and the second largest food industry in Europe after France. What makes it stand out on a national and international level is the very high quality of its offer, the result of a skillful mix between the craftsmanship of excellent raw materials and recipes that have been handed down over time and the technological innovation of supply chains and processes. The Italian confectionery tradition is undoubtedly one of the feathers in the cap of the Italian food sector. The already renowned Italian confectionery and bakery art is becoming more competitive thanks to the introduction of innovative automation solutions in laboratories and industries.
This is also the case in Sicily, more precisely in Modica (RG), where Orma Srl is based in the Serrauccelli district. The company specialises in the production of semi-finished products and typical Sicilian sweets for the hotel industry and large-scale retail trade. Taste, flavour and authenticity of tradition are the cornerstones of Orma, which since 2008 has been working with the aim of ensuring a reliable and quality service to its customers, showing particular attention to requests for customisation of products.
In 2013, Orma started production of semi-finished short pastry and puff pastry products for the confectionery industry, an event that has driven the company's development. "Growth that has translated into an increase in staff - there are now more than 30 employees at Orma - and an increase in turnover, which has risen by 350% since 2013," reports Giovanni Vindigni, Orma's legal representative.
In order to support the production of semi-finished pastry and puff pastry products, Orma has over the years "transformed" the pastry workshop into a state-of-the-art confectionery industry. As Vindigni points out, "the use of technologically advanced equipment has enabled Orma to significantly reduce the gap with other European companies." Thanks to the integration of robots to support production and packaging, the company is now able to be more efficient both in terms of respecting delivery times and in terms of improving the quality of product preservation.
The project, which was launched three years ago, had been carried out by Demur, a system integrator specialising in the construction of automated robotic systems based in Savoca in the province of Messina.
"Orma contacted us to tell us about a problem in the production chain of the puff pastry cannoli," explains Carlo Depu, Demur's managing director, "It is a very difficult product to handle because of its fragility." In addition, the company wanted to better organise some important production processes right up to packaging. In order to adapt the current production to the needs of the market, the most suitable solution was to introduce automation into the production processes, transforming a manual activity such as the parading of the cannoli and their subsequent packaging into a fully automated process managed by using two intelligent robots.
Two FANUC LR Mate 200iD/7LC articulated robots were chosen for this application, the 6-axis long arm robot suitable for use in clean rooms. The first robot picks up the freshly baked puff pastry cannoli in groups of 9 from the baking cylinders and decouples them from these, placing them on an aligner which transfers them onto a conveyor belt. At this point, the cannoli arrive in the gripping area and the other robot picks them up and boxes them, placing a non-stick sheet between each layer. At the end of the filling process, the box is removed from the line ready for closing.
The solution proposed by Demur and FANUC has not only improved working conditions for the operators, but has also increased productivity and efficiency, while ensuring the full integrity and tradition of the product.
"Our sheets are highly valued by consumers, so finding a way to handle them with due care and improve our performance was paramount," says Orma's Vindigni.
Thanks to the introduction of the robots, up to 7,000 cannoli per hour can be pulled and boxed without damaging the product, increasing the company's throughput. Orma has been able to reduce costs and get the job done in a more efficient and organised way, with efficient and versatile production results.
What made the difference was the readiness of FANUC robots to work in food environments and the ease of integration of the vision system.
"We chose FANUC robots, but above all we chose the FANUC team, because it is made up of competent people with whom we can deal with the development of high-level technological solutions that require complex and articulated solutions," notes Depu.
The objectives that Orma set itself at the beginning of the project have been achieved, but the Sicilian company does not intend to rest on its laurels. In the light of the results achieved in this three-year period, Orma is thinking of equipping itself with further robotics systems in order to conquer the North American market as well.