Case Study

Zippy Ice Speeds Up Bagging with Robotic Palletizing

Rapid growth and retiring employees prompted Zippy Ice to consider using automation for its ice packaging operations. They turned to MMCI Automation, a FANUC Authorized System Integrator, to provide an automated solution to palletize bags of ice.

Challenges solved by:

MMCI Automation Logo

  • Speed was an issue with the manual operation as it was difficult to keep up with increasing production.
  • Employees were retiring and it was nearly impossible to find new workers.
  • Space was a premium, so the automation needed to be as compact as possible.
  • The customer required reliability, flexibility, and most of all safety for its employees.


  • Robotic palletizing system enables safe, quick, and consistent operation

  • Robots increased production from 10 to 20 bags per minute (20lb. bags)

  • The system fits perfectly in the available space

  • Skilled employees now run the automation.


At Zippy Ice, stacking bags of ice onto pallets had been a manual operation. When employees started to retire, the company considered two options - hiring and training new employees to take on this cold and backbreaking task, or automation. Zippy Ice partnered with MMCI, and after evaluating production needs and workspace constraints, MMCI recommended a small-footprint palletizing system featuring the FANUC R-1000iA/80H compact material handling robot. The robot uses an MMCI designed innovative end-of-arm-tool that can efficiently stack different sized bags, and the system includes an automated pallet conveyor that accommodates pallets of different sizes and styles. 

Today, the robotic system consistently and reliably palletizes orders and has expanded Zippy’s capacity to take on new customers and continue to grow the business. Equally important is that Zippy’s skilled workforce now manages the automation to keep production running consistently. 

Howard Mackie Co-Owner of Zippy Ice being interviewed at Zippy Ice

Automation allows us to increase production, and I've got employees who are more engaged.

Howard Mackie

Co Owner, Zippy Ice

FANUC Products Used

Meet MMCI, FANUC Authorized System Integrator

MMCI provides expert Material Handling and Warehouse Automation and is passionate about solving problems of all shapes and sizes. They offer over 40 years of experience in design, engineering, integration, robotics, controls, and software to deliver automation solutions that improve performance and increase productivity for manufacturers, e-commerce, and distribution companies large and small.

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About Zippy Ice

Zippy Ice started as the first woman owned ice company in North Carolina in 2007 by Christine and Howard Mackie. Today, Zippy services thousands of convenience store locations, numerous restaurants, grocery stores, and specialty events that include ice.

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