Although it was founded in 1863 in the city of Haarlem, in the Netherlands, chocolate-maker Droste Holland is hardly antiquated in its production methods.
Although it was founded in 1863 in the city of Haarlem, in the Netherlands, chocolate-maker Droste Holland is hardly antiquated in its production methods. Recently, the company, which has been employing automated production methods since the 1960s, implemented a fully automated system to “assemble” the company’s popular gift boxes-like those distributed during Christmas and Valentines Day.
Historically, this kind of work was done manually. However, in recent years company engineers became increasingly aware that human operators were not only inadequate for the company’s growing production volumes, but creating quality issues.
“[The manual system] sometimes caused us problems, especially during peak production times when it was difficult to find proper temporary workers,” says Droste engineer Jan Mulderij. “The transportation from the production line to the warehouse was also never without some damaged chocolates.”
The situation became especially vexing after the company installed a new molding machine capable of handling a variety of different chocolates at the same time. Overnight, the packaging station became a glaring source of inefficiency in an otherwise increasingly efficient production line.
To solve the problem, Droste installed a new customized packaging system built by automation equipment supplier Flexlink System Inc. (Allentown, PA). In addition to a series of Flexlink conveyors, the system includes four Sony SRX SCARA robots.
“We had already gained good experience with [the company’s] conveyor systems and their service. When we found out that FlexLink was also able to deliver robots and we would be able to order the complete system from just one supplier, our choice was easily made,” Mulderij says. “Previous experience taught us that FlexLink has always kept its promises and has met the required delivery times.
The end result has been a dramatic increase in efficiency and quality, as well as a substantial reduction in labor costs.
“We are much less dependent on temporary staff,” Mulderij says. “The four robots replace about 14 temporary employees, and the calculated payback time is less than 18 months. Furthermore, the appearance of the final product has increased significantly.”
For more on automated systems, call 610-973-8200 or visit www.flexlink.com.