Robotic Automation Success Stories

Robotic Automation Case Study – robotic palletising of scrap aluminium

A John Hart robotic automation success story: robotic palletising of heavy and jagged bales of scrap aluminium from packaging production.


In aluminium can production, cans are punched from a flat sheet of aluminium, the scrap aluminium is then compressed into dense bales and palletised into cubes ready for recycling.

Typically these bales weighing up to 40 kgs are manually palletised into a multi-layered cube and strapped.

Due to the weight and jagged edges on the bales, the manual handling is a health and safety risk, so John Hart Automation was approached to provide a robotic palletising solution for the handling of this packaging waste.

The challenge for the team at John Hart Automation was that a standard palletising pattern could not be employed as the length of the bales out of the compactor were inconsistent, but the palletised cube had to be maintained within certain dimensional constraints so that the maximum number of cubes would fit into a forty foot shipping container.

The solution was to use a Fanuc R-2000iC/125L robot to measure the length of the bale and then calculate how it could be slotted into the current layer on the pallet. If there was no solution to fit the current bale onto the pallet layer then the robot would place it into a buffer station.

The robot would then consider all the bales stored in the buffer station to complete the current layer.

The payload of the Fanuc R-2000iC/125L allowed the robot to also handle the steel pallets in the system. An infeed conveyor can hold up to four pallets, about eight hours’ worth of production.

Empty pallets were moved from the infeed conveyor to the outfeed conveyor where the robot would create cubes, once the cube was complete the robot would index the pallet out and move a new pallet to the loading station.

An operator would manually strap the cubes at the end of the shift and drive them directly into the forty foot container ready for export and recycling.

The robotic automation system by John Hart Automation removed all the risks associated with handling the heavy and dangerous bales.