Martel Foods is a family-owned manufacturer of ready-to-eat products based in Quebec, Canada. They needed a solution to ramp up the production of packaged sandwiches. As a long-time customer of Grote Company, they turned to us for a robotic sandwich lidding solution.
Martel Foods is a family-owned manufacturer of ready-to-eat products based in Quebec, Canada. They employ more than 100 workers in its 50,000-square-foot factory. Martel uses cutting-edge equipment and technology to produce high-quality perishable products, including packaged sandwiches.
They needed a solution to ramp up the production of sandwiches and reduce manual labor, freeing workers’ time to complete less mundane tasks and compensate for the lack of available skilled labor. As a long-time customer of Grote Company, they turned to us to help automate.
The project involved developing a robotic sandwich “lidding” solution. (Lidding is putting the top piece of bread on a sandwich). The equipment was designed in the UK by Grote’s robotics team, built at Grote’s U.S. and UK facilities, and sold and serviced by Pemberton & Associates, Grote’s representative in Canada.
The equipment includes a 3D vision system, a 4-axis Stäubli HE robot, and custom end-of-arm tooling surrounded by guarding. It's built into their existing sandwich assembly line, which features Grote's Bread Denester and Ultrasonic Sandwich Cutter.
The Martel project marked the first robotics installation for Grote Company in North America. While the risk of potential issues with the installation was high, it was accomplished in one weekend. The new machinery was operational on Monday morning. Martel, Grote, and Pemberton collaborated closely to ensure installation and training went as smoothly as possible.
Martel can “lid” 52 sandwiches per minute with the new equipment. This increases production by nearly 50%. They also replaced one operator per shift.
“Martel increased productivity from 35 to 52 sandwiches a minute while eliminating the personnel previously required for that task,” said Serge Martel, owner, Martel. “This allows us to assign other less mundane tasks to those employees.”
“The transition has gone very well,” said Martel. “It was a big success right from the beginning. There was excellent support during installation, followed by absolutely no problems in production.”
“The new equipment has helped Martel close the gap between full automation and manual labor,” Martel continued. “It works seamlessly with the rest of the Grote equipment on the line.”
Martel envisions using more robotic technology in the future. “We’re already looking ahead to the next opportunity,” said Martel. There are currently two similar projects in the works.
“We’re no longer relying on manual labor for a tedious task,” Martel says. “We know we’ll hit our rate consistently throughout a shift with no downtime or quality issues.”
“This is the future, to become efficient and to compensate for the lack of trained employees,” Martel continued.
Download the Martel Case Study here.