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Kelsen automated cookie production

Kelsen Group 
Robots collaborate on cutting cartons


  • Field-tested with pre-project
  • Improved food safety
  • Significantly reduced delivery time
The Kelsen Group is supplied with 25,000 tons of cookies each year, which are produced in the two Danish bakeries in Nørre Snede and Ribe. And one ingredient that is essential to some of the world-famous cookie factory’s products is butter.

Cookie manufacturer Kelsen Group has reduced the delivery time of their products after implementing automated unpacking of heavy butter cartons in partnership with BILA.

Every year, the Kelsen Group sells 25,000 tons of cookies, which are produced in the two Danish bakeries in Nørre Snede and Ribe. And one ingredient that is essential to some of the world-famous cookie factory’s products is butter.

For their production, Kelsen Group is supplied with butter that comes frozen in heavy 25 kg cartons. And before the butter can be used for baking, the cartons must first be cut open so that the butter can be released and set out to undergo the tempering process.

In the past, the cutting and emptying of the butter cartons was performed manually at the facility in Nørre Snede. It was a difficult and time-consuming process, and one which also involved inappropriate working positions, repetitive work and heavy lifting for the employees who handled this aspect of production. Kelsen Group wanted to do something about it – and so they contacted BILA.

The ideal outcome was very simple: an automated solution to cut and empty the heavy 25 kg cartons. A solution that also needed to meet the highest demands for flexibility and operational reliability.

Successful pre-project confirmed the solution

At BILA and Kelsen Group, the market was searched unsuccessfully to find equipment that could solve the task in a satisfactory way. So the project department launched a pilot project to test their ideas for a possible solution – and to find out if they would work in practice.

In BILA’s concept, the system was built around two robots: one robot that would automatically seek and find the boxes on the pallet and then present them to another robot to do the actual cutting. For the pilot project, test tools were built for both robots and the test cell was installed at BILA, where both Kelsen Group and Dragsbæk Margarine visited a number of times to watch the system in operation and see the test results

"We had a lot of success with our tests, which is why we headed straight to an order for Kelsen Group. Subsequently, the system has fully lived up to the excellent test results,"

explains Claus Børresen, Key Account Manager at BILA.

And there was also plenty of enthusiasm for the pilot project on the part of the end customer. Johan Dissing, Technical Manager at Kelsen Group, says:

"With the pilot project, we eliminated all the uncertainties we had about the system and we could see all the benefits that came with automating the handling process. The pilot project made a very complex project comprehensible and showed us that BILA’s system would be a safe investment.​"


Automated cutting and repalletisation

The result was an automated cutting and repalletisation process in one and the same system. A solution comprised of two robots that cut and open the heavy 25 kg butter cartons, and then repalletise them to prepare the butter to undergo the tempering process that will take it from -18 to +18 degrees. And where previously the butter was placed in a warehouse to thaw, the separated blocks are now put into defrost tunnels with heavy ventilation. 

Together, the new handling process has reduced butter tempering time from 3-4 weeks to the current 36 hours – and it also significantly shortens delivery time.

"We have become much more competitive because we can now deliver orders after a few days, whereas in the past, it could take weeks of delivery time due to the long thawing process for the butter,"

explains Johan Dissing.

No damaged cartons and a better working environment

"Previously, we had to depalletise the butter before thawing it. It arrived on pallets, and the cartons were glued together so that they would not slide off the pallet. So two forklift trucks literally had to run their forks into each other to loosen up the glue and twist the cartons apart. It was quite brutal – and certainly not an optimum solution, as it meant that cartons were often damaged. That doesn’t happen anymore because now the robots handle the process in a controlled manner."

Manual cutting of the cartons involved a lot of heavy lifting, wrist twisting, and generally inappropriate working positions because employees had to cut and then twist the heavy cartons to get the butter out.

With automated cutting, both the risk of carton damage and inappropriate working positions have been eliminated:

"Due to high food safety requirements and to ensure that no foreign matter enters the products, the robot’s blade must not be able to cut all the way through the foil packages of butter. We have solved this by selecting different cutting patterns, and the cutting depth can be adjusted during the process. And after cutting, the opening is created using a suction cup that twists the box open so that the butter block can be released without effort"

Claus Børresen explains.

Two robots working together is unique

Claus Børresen says it is quite unique to have two robots work together to cut open a carton, but at the same time it was simply the optimum solution to Kelsen Group’s needs, partly because of the high security and flexibility associated with the changeover:

We chose this solution to simplify the solution of fixtures and turning stations. By bringing an additional robot into the task of cutting open a carton, process safety and flexibility are also increased. The entire changeover from one product to another takes place simply by selecting a program.

In addition to the cutting function, the system can also be used directly in production. After cutting, the operator can choose, through the user panel, to have the butter deposited onto a conveyor instead of being repalletised. And from here it can be transported directly into the production process where it is to be used.

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Jesper Hjort

Jesper Hjort

Market Unit Manager
+45 2265 0016