R.A Jones, recently launched its intelligent Flexible Transfer System (iFTS), a smart automated and customizable transfer system that provides consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies with a flexible solution to solve simple or complex automation challenges. The system can service various products that include bulk packs and dry foods—such as snacks—cereal and candy, as well as electronics and home goods like toothpaste.

Offering the standard building blocks, iFTS draws upon a library of fixed automation, various robot types and sizes, and standard or custom tooling to optimize a solution to meet production needs and improve efficiency within the packaging line. The iFTS will be showcased alongside R.A Jones’ Criterion CLI-100 cartoner at PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2023.

The company states that iFTS on display at the show demonstrates receiving the product from upstream systems, such as a Volpak SI-180 pouch machine, which are then placed upon magnetic levitating shuttles, which transport, group and orient the pouches for side-loading of cartons from three-count to eight-count variations. 

The system integrates a four-axis robotic pick and place, offering pouch size-change flexibility, and depending on the sizing, products can span across two magnetic shuttles. By rotating and collating products so more can fit in the carton, iFTS states that it can help brands cut down on overall carton volume by 10 to 20 percent and create a more sustainable packaging option.

Another feature of the transfer system is the shuttles’ ability to detect the presence of a product. If no product is placed on the shuttle, the machine automatically responds to substitute another shuttle in some scenarios. By combining appropriate digital technology, robotics and tooling, the iFTS can provide production efficiency, reliability, and flexibility within packaging operations, says R.A Jones.

Standard frame mounting, guarding and overhead enclosures can be readily adapted around other machines in the line while lower frame mounting enables easy integration of conveyors and other equipment. The system offers a smaller footprint and is scalable, so units can be grouped in a line or other configurations to incorporate larger robots or solve problems, such as packaging heavier products.