Buckinghamshire: Company uses robots to keep factory open

In order to keep its factory open and fulfil orders from customers, Chesham-based B Loony has come up with an innovative solution to keep staff safe and practise social distancing.  The company is using collaborative robots to work alongside a skeleton staff to keep the production line moving.

B Loony was established 40 years ago and is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of printed balloons and suppliers of promotional products, including paper flags, bunting and banners. It supplies global brands including McDonalds and Costa Coffee and has a constantly busy order book. As with all businesses, B Loony had to adapt quickly to changing circumstances when the Government announced lockdown arrangements in March.

Andy MacInnes, commercial director, said: “Four years ago, we took the decision to invest in our first collaborative robot to work alongside members of our existing team in order to increase productivity as the business expanded. It was important for us that we kept the staff engaged in the process and took them with us as we used technology to carry out some of the more repetitive, time consuming tasks which include sewing promotional bunting and making burger flags.

“Over that time, they have enabled us to significantly increase our capacity and efficiency and have been a vital investment for the business.

“We now have eight robots working alongside a skeleton staff and they have really come into their own and been one of the key reasons that we have been able to keep production lines going. The co-bots are allowing us to fulfil contracted orders from larger clients so that the business can continue to operate until we can start full production again when restrictions ease.”