Customer needed an automated solution for arranging bulk product into organized lanes to be indexed and picked.




  • CHL tested a few options for loading the sticks from a bulk hopper to a flighted belt and the best solution was using a star wheel.
  • Based on initial testing, a machine was quoted that included a servo-driven star-wheel feeding a servo-driven timing belt with precise flight pockets to match the pick-and-place robot.
  • Wooden dowels were used to simulate the product before the actual product was tested to confirm findings.
  • Once the star-wheel and hopper configuration was set, CHL’s engineers developed this into a food production application.
  • A program was developed that coordinated the movement of the star-wheels with the movement of the belt.
  • The program also detected unfilled pockets in the star-wheel and corrected for this to ensure total fill of the belt.


  • The final machine was able to feed 1-oz. (6.5″ long) and o\0.5 oz. (3.25″ long) meat sticks at a rate of 360 pieces per minute.
  • Indexed 24 at a time to a precise location for the pick-and-place robot.
  • The hopper holds 10 minutes worth of product so the operator can fill the machine and tend to other tasks.
  • It is a unique piece of equipment that allows the customer to run much more than is possible with hand loading.




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