Every week in Give, near Billund, Danpo produces 950 tonnes of chicken products. The fresh chicken meat comes directly into the factory from poultry slaughterhouses. The meat is chopped and combined into a meat mixture, which is then formed, heated, treated, breaded, frittered, frozen, glazed, weighed, packed in bags and boxes that are labelled, palletised and wrapped. The whole process only takes 75 minutes. The freshly-prepared products are delivered to the restaurant industry and retail distributors, who have precise requirements for both quality and price point for the goods they sell.
As Factory Manager at Danpo, Rene Tryk focuses on opportunities for optimisation:
‘The food industry in Denmark is a wage-heavy industry compared to other countries, so we automate everything that we can throughout our company. This ensures our competitiveness, but also quality and a good work environment. We would like to use our employees for what they are best at: Our strategy is to grow in volume from farm to fork, by meeting the very high standards of our customers. That’s why we prioritise using our employees’ skills for quality control. In return, we have less and less direct physical contact with the products, and no heavy lifting.’
Danpo is part of the Nordic group Scandi Standard, who slaughter and process poultry in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Ireland, and export chicken products to 40 countries. Danpo has produced chicken for over 60 years, and the group’s annual turnover is more than seven billion Danish kroner.
BILA is very professional. They understand that for us to produce chicken products that need to be heated and then cooled down, the system needs to run perfectly – and it does,’ concludes Rene Tryk from Danpo.
Together with Denmark’s largest automation firm, BILA A/S, Danpo has built its fourth production line. It is fully automated and ensures a 20% higher output than on the other older lines. In the packing system, the technology – a case-packer, a palletising robot and a self-driving forklift truck – two out of three employees are now freed up to solve more complex tasks elsewhere in the plant.
‘It means a lot that BILA can help us come up with just the right solution, which is a state-of-the-art streamlined and fully automatic Rolls Royce model of a packing system, so we are really happy about that,’ notes Rene Tryk, elaborating:
‘We’re not stopping the growth here. With this project, we have laid the foundations – we are ready for further growth and to create a new line. It is clear that we will expand using the same model when the need is there.
Automation helps to free up resources so that Danpo can pursue its sustainability strategy to invest in increased animal welfare with more slow-growing chickens, and in plant-based products targeting the growing number of vegetarians, for example.
Chief Technical Officer at the Danpo plant in Give, Thomas Kael, reports that the new line maintains an uptime of 96–97%. Line 4’s production layout also enables a simpler, faster and cheaper cleaning process. The weekly downtime of the line averages at below 4% of production time.
Lean Process Manager, Søren Tuborg Bendtsen, focuses on flexible and optimal space utilisation, so that growth doesn’t break the framework. There is a constant race between available space at the chicken producer’s, and the growth curve in production.
‘We prevent logistics problems by using a self-driving forklift truck, an AGV, which creates better access to the line and the facility. Fixed pallet slots and fixed roller conveyors would lock the driving paths, while the AGV creates a future-proof flow and prevents accumulations in the packing system. There is also really a lot of wasted time with people driving around in a forklift truck and putting something out in the cold store when a robot could be doing it just as well. What the AGV uses in terms of space is minimal compared to manoeuvring around, and the AGV drives itself to its base to recharge between tasks,’ says Søren Tuborg Bendtsen.
Compared to self-driving forklift trucks, manual forklifts generally involve an increased risk of human error and accidents as a result of blind corners and distraction. This is shown in the statistics from the manufacturing industry.
Line 4 is also a hit among Danpo employees, as department head Morten Kold explains:
It is lovely to have the machinery running fully automatically every day. Daily life works really well with an AGV, as it makes a lot of our work much easier. Sitting behind the wheel of a forklift truck all day long is just not healthy. Us humans are built to use our brains for something more interesting, like quality control tasks. We call it Robert. Some of the colleagues have a little fun “playing with the AGV” and challenging the technology in terms of safety, to see what happens. It works as it should every time.’
Sofie Bell, forewoman for carton packaging, and production employee of five years at Danpo, participated in the calibration of Production Line 4 together with programmers and technicians from Danpo and BILA.
‘We worked together to fine tune the packing system in the introduction phase. We had a good working relationship and good communication with BILA, and you could always call them and get a hold of them. Now Line 4 is the line we have the fewest problems with. We just need to go in once every 15 minutes to fill up the cardboard, which makes work life a little easier. We use our heads more and our bodies less,’ explains Sofie Bell.
Along with her quality control colleagues, once an hour she checks whether bag prints and boxes match the machine counts correctly. The packaging plant simply needs to be provided with pallets in the pallet magazine from Palomat, another BILA brand.