While there are many food applications that require the picking of a uniform product such as meat and cheese, others involve products with more variable characteristics such as weight, size and shape. With a fresh produce application for example, there is variability in the size and shape of apples, peaches or tomatoes. These applications require additional attention to soft and gentle handling of products. Other similar delicate applications would include handling fresh baked items, enrobed chocolate, items with any sort of topping and fresh burger patties – just to name a few.

With developments by Soft Robotics, a single end-of-arm tool (EOAT) can now handle an unprecedented range of objects without the need for tool changes or software modifications between cycles. Soft Robotics has demonstrated the ability to grasp difficult-to-handle products with variable characteristics such as fresh produce or raw dough, all with a single device. This disruptive capability addresses unmet needs in existing markets and unlocks new markets for cost-effective automated solutions.

JLS partnered with Soft Robotics to help expand the capabilities of existing robotic packaging technologies. “Grippers” can now be integrated with JLS’ EOAT, which truly act as fingers that gently pick and place hard-to-handle products. The grippers are adaptive, cost-effective, simple-to-use and can help bring automation to traditional manual packing applications.

“Our partnership with Soft Robotics has certainly opened some doors for new markets and applications,” says Craig A. Souser, JLS President/CEO. “Since working with Soft Robotics, we have revisited projects and applications that we had previously passed on since we now have the proper solution. We’re excited to build our partnership, explore these new opportunities and keep learning what is possible.”

At PACK EXPO, the Soft Robotics grippers will be integrated with an Osprey robotic case packer in JLS’ booth, N-5427. Daily demonstrations of a “kitting” application will be performed. The particular application displayed will be a salad kit where several items such as a bag of lettuce, a package of croutons, a pouch of dressing and various fresh produce products will all be placed into a single case – with a single EOAT!

Learn more about the Osprey case packer at www.jlsautomation.com/osprey