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Ornua palletising success story with UR20 and PE20 solution.


Irish dairy cooperative Ornua has deployed the Universal Robots UR20 cobot coupled with the Robotiq PE20 Palletising Solution, handling a variety of products weighing up to 12 kg (26.5 lbs). The increased payload and extended reach of the new, larger UR20 cobot has enabled the company to automate a task that posed a real risk of repetitive strain injuries to employees. Ornua chose a UR20-powered palletising solution from Robotiq, the PE20, due to its ease of use and ability to operate seamlessly alongside workers while handling diverse dairy products.

The Challenge

One of Ornua’s most labour-intensive operations was end-of-line palletising. This essential but physically demanding task involved handling a variety of dairy products, from 6 to 12 kg (13.2 to 26.5 lbs) packages and hefty 10 kg (22 lbs) blocks of cheese.

Manually loading and unloading these products posed a real risk of repetitive strain injuries to their dedicated employees. The job required constant bending, reaching, and lifting – a gruelling and unergonomic process that could result in health issues over time. It became evident that automation could not only alleviate the strain on their workforce but also allow their employees’ transition to more value-added roles.

‘We looked at palletising as the first area to explore automation due to the number of human resources needed. If we can automate that task, then those resources can be used elsewhere. There’s the health and safety aspect as well.’ Says Jack Cotton, Continuous Improvement Lead at Ornua.

Finding the Right Solution

Ornua set out to find a solution that could efficiently handle the challenge of palletising their diverse dairy products. Their search initially led them to several suppliers offering robotic systems, but these systems would have completely isolated the human element from the process, which wasn’t suitable for their needs. Given the nature of dairy products and the need for flexibility in their operations, they required a solution that allowed for human interaction and oversight.

Andrew Mason (RARUK Automation) and Jack Cotton (Ornua).

This is when Ornua got in touch with RARUK Automation and Robotiq and were introduced to Universal Robots’ collaborative robots, which are designed to work seamlessly alongside workers. Ornua saw promise in Universal Robots’ UR20 robot, a powerful cobot with 20 kilograms (44.1 lbs) payload capability and reach of 1750 mm (68.9 in), making it ideal for their palletizing needs.

In Jack Cotton’s words, “When I found out about the UR20, we were quite excited due to its capability of lifting up to 20 kg”.

How They Did It

The solution that Robotiq provided for Ornua – the PE20 – was built entirely around the UR20 cobot. It is performing a simple pick and place task, picking blocks of cheese or boxed dairy products from the conveyor and putting them onto a pallet in the correct pattern.

Robotiq’s dedicated software for palletising applications – Material Handling Copilot – helps make the setup quick and straightforward. Unlike traditional robots that require extensive programming, Robotiq offers a user-friendly interface.

Robotiq palletising software

Étienne Samson, Robotics Applications Director at Robotiq, explains “Having a solution like we have, it means having a visual set up, so you don’t need to program lines of code. You will just open the palletising interface, enter your box dimension and weight and the pattern, and then you just press start, and the robot will do everything automatically”.

The Results

The response from Ornua’s employees and management was very positive. The UR20 proved to be a user-friendly, adaptable, and efficient solution. In fact, when speaking to customers’ feedback on UR cobots, Andrew Mason, Automation Sales Manager at RARUK Automation, said:

“The feedback of customers using Universal Robots is that they’re user-friendly. We have many customers who are repeat customers; they buy multiples”.

Moments after the installation, a small applause broke out when the UR20 completed its first pallet. It was a fitting celebration for a cooperative committed to innovation, efficiency, and the well-being of its workforce. With the UR20 by their side, Ornua is well-prepared to continue leading the way in the Irish dairy industry, one pallet at a time.

Ornua palletising setup

With the successful deployment of the UR20, Ornua now looks ahead to a future where automation plays an even more significant role in their operations.

As Jack Cotton explains, “I’m hoping after the installation of this cobot that the business will be a lot more open to adding more automation”.

The possibilities are exciting, with the potential for automation extending to other areas within the dairy industry.

Want to talk?

For more information about robotics or automation systems contact
RARUK Automation on 01462 670 044 or email us at