The project PicknPack, financed by the EU, aims at flexible packaging and quality assessment of horticultural products and ready meals. Currently, at Wageningen Campus, the hardware modules, provided by 12 research groups, companies and universities are combined into an assembly line.
The thermoformer is the first module of the line and produces trays using a plastic film that is heated in a mould. This thermoformer is built by DTI (Danish Technological Institute).
In the trays products, like tomatoes or grapes, are deposited. The assembly line will be able to handle different products of different sizes. Therefore, it is necessary to adjust the shape of the mould to the current size of the product.
Nowadays in industry, a mould has a fixed composition. To exchange a mould in between handling different products is time consuming and the moulds themselves are very expensive. By making use of a composition of blocks from which the mould is made virtually any mould configuration may be assembled offline in a number of minutes. An automatic exchange station in the thermoformer exchanges the moulds in a minute so that the production can quickly be resumed.