Case Study

FANUC Cobot Allows Potato Producer to Overcome Labor Shortage

Magic Valley Produce, based in Paul, ID has been a leading producer of potatoes for six decades. Labor challenges on its palletizing line prompted the company to explore automation. With limited floorspace for robotics, they turned to the system integration experts at WeAssistBots, a FANUC Authorized System Integrator, to design a solution to palletize heavy cases of potatoes.

Challenges solved by:

OnRobot and WeAssistBots Logos

  • Labor shortage in rural Idaho
  • Limited floorspace in the palletizing area
  • Ability to lift 52.5-pound cases
  • Handle unique two-piece boxes with loose lids


  • Automated solution offsets the labor shortage.

  • FANUC CR-35iB cobot using two robust OnRobot grippers easily palletizes 52.5-pound cases.

  • Cobot’s small installation footprint and large work envelope accommodates tight space.

  • Optimization icon

    Ensures precise and efficient handling of potatoes.


Magic Valley Produce, based in Paul, ID has been a leading supplier of potatoes since 1964. Challenged by a shortage of available labor in their palletizing area, the company began investigating the possibility of automation. With very limited floorspace, there wasn’t enough room to use traditional industrial robots that would typically require safety fencing. In addition, Magic Valley felt that cobots would not have the lifting power to handle their 52.5-pound boxes of potatoes. Perhaps the biggest challenge was how the robot could lift the two-piece boxes. Since the lid was not secured, it would be impossible to use a standard vacuum gripper.

Magic Valley turned to WeAssistBots, a FANUC Authorized System Integrator, to help them design a palletizing system to fit their needs.

WeAssistBots immediately took an innovative approach and selected a FANUC CR-35iB cobot. The CR-35iB can lift up to 35 kg and offers a long 1831 mm reach. The combination of a small installation footprint and large work envelope is a perfect solution. The application stacks two pallets from floor to ceiling on either side of the cobot, taking less space than having workers in the area.

The cobot is equipped with two OnRobot 2FGP20 electric finger grippers. Each gripper is capable of handling 20kg, so using two ensures more than enough power to handle the boxes of potatoes. In addition, the grippers have metal plates with curved fingers on one side, allowing the cobot to tuck the grippers’ fingers under the bottom of each box before lifting it.

Today, the palletizing system is meeting Magic Valley’s throughput requirements and have reduced the need to hire additional people for palletizing.

Dean Gibson - Co-owner and Controller, Magic Valley Produce

Fortunately, with the FANUC cobot and the Onrobot gripper, we have found something that’s really worked well for us.

Dean Gibson

Co-Owner and Controller, Magic Valley Produce

FANUC Products Used

Meet WeAssistBots, FANUC Authorized System Integrator

WeAssistBots, LLC is a FANUC Authorized System Integrator based in Boise, ID. Whether the robotic application is large or small, WeAssist’s team of robotic experts can provide the correct solution and assistance to ensure the job is done right. A combination of application expertise with robots, cobots and other automation technologies allows WeAssist to efficiently solve a wide range of applications.

Certified Idaho Potatoes

About Magic Valley Produce

Magic Valley Produce, Inc. is a family owned and operated potato farm and fresh pack facility founded in 1964 by the Delis Family. The family farming and packing operation grows Idaho potatoes for the fresh market, grown in Idaho’s Magic Valley. The company washes, grades, sizes and packs Delish Brand Idaho potatoes in their packing facility in Paul, Idaho, and distributes them to retail and foodservice outlets throughout the USA and Canada.

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