Palletizing Robots Are Emerging As The Future Of The Production Line

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Palletizing Robots Are Emerging As The Future Of The Production Line

By Emily

May 26, 2022
Palletizing Robots

Depalletizing & Palletizing Robots Can Increase Production Rates and Efficiency in Your Facility

The production line of tomorrow will require more automated systems such as palletizing robots. One part of production that can be easily automated is palletizing. The production line is made up of various individual steps, which all need to work together seamlessly to keep production running at optimal levels.

One type of robot that help with high-speed production is a palletizing robot. It can build pallets in a warehouse, store, or distribution center. Palletizing robots are typically quick-change robots that move about the warehouse to different locations where they are needed to keep up with demand, often without requiring any human guidance.

vertical farming with robotics

How They Work

A typical application involves using an automated guided vehicle (AGV) transporting stacks of pallets to the place where they must be loaded onto a conveyor belt or put onto another transport vehicle for shipment.

The stack is then sensed by overhead cameras and after being verified, it is picked up by mechanical arm tools equipped with suction pads or clamps which grasp each end of the freshly made pallet. The two ends are then lifted into position at either side of the AGV while its central pallet-holding section is being locked into the automatic mounting frame.

An alternative, more recent approach uses load cells instead of clamps or suction cups for holding the ends of the pallets to achieve a higher throughput speed, often up to 200 pallets per hour. The idea behind this form of gripping is that it provides an easier transition when these robots are operating in applications with loose products like puffed cereals, for example, where sticking pads can get stuck on small pieces and cause delays.

However, adhesive pads are used where there is no risk of debris in the air that could gum up suction cups or load cells. In Europe, they’re very common in warehouses handling powdered products like sugar because the dust created by these products could otherwise jam the load cell’s internal machinery.

Next, the AGV takes the loaded pallet to an empty slot on a conveyor belt or other transport vehicle (e.g., rail, ship, truck), where it is again held by clamps or suction pads before being lowered onto its final position. The cycle then starts all over again until there are no more stacks of product left to be palletized.

Keep Downtime to a Minimum

According to automate.org, Probably the greatest benefit of robots in any situation is the flexibility that they bring to your operations. Unlike conventional layer palletizers, a palletizing robot can easily handle mixed pallets with products of various sizes and shapes.

Because production lines are so important to the success of any company, these lines must never experience downtime. With production lines being as complex as they are, it is inevitable that production holds, and slowdowns will occur from time to time. When this does happen, several issues can arise with production:

  • Down time may impact delivery timescales
  • Uneven production could lead to overproduction or underproduction
  • A bottleneck in the supply chain may cause production to slow down
  • The production line might not be working to maximum efficiency

The easier production is to control, the more likely downtime is to be kept to a minimum. Palletizing tasks are an ideal opportunity for automation within production lines because they are stationary tasks, can often be done on their own, and do not require interaction with other parts of the production line.
Some palletizing tasks can be integrated into mobile robots which will interact with other components of the production line. This integration results in production lines that are both mobile and fully automated.
There are many reasons to invest in a palletizing robot.
They include:

  • Faster throughput as robots can work at a faster rate than people
  • Increase in safety for employees working close to the product and travelling conveyor belts that lead robot arms and grippers
  • Reduction of production costs: robots require less manpower, rework, and parts than traditional factory systems. The time it takes to adjust and program them is much shorter. Robots will never need training or vacations or sick days, so they do not pose any human management challenges such as employee turnover or lack of qualified candidates for available jobs.

The main drawback could be the initial investment which is usually higher than many other automated systems such as automated guided vehicles (AGV).

Before Investing in a Palletizing Robot

material handling robotics

There is a wide range of considerations to make before investing in a palletizing robot. First are payload capacities. Will the robot be able to handle and lift the necessary weight to move materials around?

Next is cycle times. Will the robot complete the necessary work in less than time than their human counterparts? Will efficiency and production rates be higher with an automated palletizing system?

Another consideration is the correct robot model for the job being performed. At Russell Conveyor & Equipment, we can help you determine the correct palletizing solution for your warehouse.

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