This NZ business saves $250k a year using OMRON technology

September 05, 2023

Tumblar Products has been providing innovative manufacturing solutions for clients for more than four decades.

This NZ business saves $250k a year using OMRON technology

Tumblar Products has been providing innovative manufacturing solutions for clients for more than four decades. 


Founded in 1981, this New Zealand based family-owned business, specialises in contract manufacturing and packing services for the FMCG, household, agriculture and home garden care sectors.​ 


Its customer base now spreads around the world from the Netherlands to the US, Asia and Australia. 


In recent years, to help drive its production, Tumblar Products has been investing heavily in robotic automation; now partnering with local sole trader Agile Automation to continue their industry 4.0 journey. 


As part of the transition, the company’s automation engineer in Christchurch was given a challenge to design and implement an agile, fully-automatic machine loader for one of Tumblar’s blister-packing lines.   


Using smart camera technology, the new automation system would replace manual loading of the company’s blister pack equipment – removing strenuous and repetitive tasks – and minimising risk of injury. 


OMRON a ‘natural’ choice 


When it came to acquiring the best equipment for the new system, OMRON Automation and Robotics was the top choice. 


After nearly two years of planning, development and trialling, working closely with the experienced OMRON team, the dynamic new pick & place system was launched earlier this year. 


Nick Harper, the automation engineer, who now contracts for electrical and automation projects throughout NZ, played a key role in bringing the project to fruition; Nick led the project, designing, procuring, installing and commissioning the new loading system. 


“In early 2020, I was working with the (Tumblar) operations team to design and implement the equipment automation and consolidation plan,” he explains. 


“A large part of this work was working out how to viably automate production lines – this is a challenge with the relatively small volume and high variety of products that the company produces.” 


Nick, a qualified hands-on electrician, with experience in industrial equipment design, build, and install, has been collaborating with the OMRON NZ team for about four years.   


“Tumblar uses a lot of OMRON hardware. It was a natural choice for me to use OMRON componentry when designing the latest Autoloader project.” 


State-of-the-art equipment 


The Autoloader is capable of automatic pick & place of a variety of parts using OMRON’s state-of-the-art iX4 robot and smart camera technology. 


OMRON’s FH series smart camera is used to locate the position of blocks on a tray, ready for the iX4 to pick and place them onto an indexing conveyor. 


To streamline the operation, OMRON also supplied NJ501 series controllers, 1SA Servos, gearboxes and NX safety equipment – all integrated with the ground-breaking SYSMAC Studio software platform. 


Embracing Industry 4.0 principles 


Nick recently launched his own automation and controls business, Agile Automation and now contracts to Tumblar, as well as other businesses around New Zealand 


“Robotics play a key part at Agile Automation and Tumblar, he says. 


“Embracing Industry 4.0 principles is key to manufacturing in New Zealand, increasing productivity and allowing us to compete in APAC.” 


So, how has the new Autoloader benefitted Tumblar? 


“The project has reduced operational costs by about $250,000 a year and forms a key part of the company’s strategic consolidation plan,” says Nick. 


“Using OMRON technology, the blister packing machine and Autoloader is controlled by a central HMI, increasing efficiency, simplifying the machine operating process, and improving machine throughput.” 


Also, there is no longer a need for four operators. These team members can now be deployed in less demanding, more creative roles. 


And the new production line has given the company more flexibility, with potential to increase production hours and cycle times compared to human operators.  


Customer benefits 


OMRON NZ Manager Lyndon Fowler says the OMRON team was proud to work with Tumblar Products and its highly professional team. 


“This innovative project delivered a successful outcome for both Tumblar and its clients,” says Lyndon. 


“We thank Nick and the Tumblar team for the opportunity and we look forward to working with them on future projects.” 


Why choose OMRON? 


“I chose OMRON for number of reasons,” Nick adds. 


“OMRON offers a range of cutting-edge of products and excellent, personalised customer service, with local engineering support. 


“They have a collaborative style of account managers, who are genuinely interested in change. 


“I would certainly recommend OMRON. The company offers a wide range of flexible products, along with a pragmatic approach to assisting customers on complex solutions.” 

Contact Omron for more information.


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