Palletizing Robotic Systems

Palletizing robotic systems are designed for a wide range of palletizing applications in a number of industries. Robotic solutions offer high operational flexibility and can build a number of pallet loads of different products simultaneously, handle several product sizes, shapes and weights and can be reprogrammed to handle changed or new load requirements.

The main features of palletizing robotic systems are:

  • Completely automatic operation
  • Application-specific custom grippers
  • Touch screen operator interface
  • Graphical user interface (GUI) enables troubleshooting, training and changing operational parameters
  • Robotic systems are capable of servicing multiple in-feed lines and handling several product shapes, sizes and weights simultaneously.

What is the Product Made of?

The design of a robotic palletizing cell has become more complicated as companies invest in eco-friendly and sustainable packaging.

To bring down dunnage, standard corrugated cartons are substituted with a thin wall pressboard, loose product in-trays and shrink-wrapped product bundles on corrugated pads.

It is important to choose the right end-of-arm tooling so that the company’s range of packaging types are suitably handled.

End of arm tooling types include:

  • Vacuum tooling – This type is ideal for conventional, sturdy packaging such as sealed corrugated cases that can bear the total product weight during transfer. This method is not suited for many packaging types such as tall cases with a low center of gravity.
  • Fork style – This uses a row of forks that move through conveyor rollers to pick the product from the bottom. This is suitable for bags and cases that are irregularly shaped, cases having lids, fan-fold cartons and packaging that cannot support its own product weight. Fork style needs additional space for pattern formation.
  • Side clamp – This is used for packages that cannot be handled using a vacuum tool. This works well with thin-wall sustainable packaging and can offer flexibility for packaging lines that run a range of products.
  • Layer handling – Certain operations may need complete layer handling for palletizing, which is expensive. This application is suitable for cases not having sealed tops.
  • Hybrid tooling methods include vacuum-assisted clamping or layer handling, vacuum-assisted fork style, clamping-assisted vacuum and handling tier sheets or pallets.

How it Works

There is a workspace designed for the robot to allow for product handling. Product packages are transported to the cell by the conveyor.

The packages in the cell or the workspace are arranged to be picked. These will then be palletized, moving them from the conveyor to a specific pattern on the pallet. The full pallet is moved out of the cell to the next palletizing system stage, which normally invovles stretch wrapping.

Pallet handling can be done using transfer cart, conveyor or an automated guided vehicle. Depending on the type of pallet mover used, the system is automated to coordinate with the actions of the robot and the speed at which packages need to be palletized.

The palletizer type differs based on the type of product. For instance, a bag palletizer may need a slip sheet mounted on the pallet; whereas, a case palletizer for trays with open top may need tier sheets between layers, both of which are mounted by the robot.

The robot is selected based on product weight, speed and size of the packages. An end of arm tooling (EOAT) is fabricated for package handling. The pattern of the pallet and the work flow of the palletizing robot is programmed and the user controls the robot with a human machine interface (HMI).

Advantages

The advantages of using palletizing robotic systems are:

  • Brings down costs related to inefficiency and labor.
  • Provides flexibility for handling different sizes, shapes and weights for one or more lines.
  • Tireless automation and low maintenance requirements ensure that downtime is kept to a minimum.
  • Safety is enhanced with a palletizing method that brings down noise, heavy lifting and repetitive motion problems.
  • Conventional palletizers may have to be redesigned if there is a change in a pallet or product pattern; however, at a fraction of the cost a robotic palletizer adapts to changes. Reprogramming alone is sufficient, and if required a new end of arm tool may be needed.

Products – Latest Advancements

Modern robotic automation technologies enhance efficiency and performance in product flow and production. Aberle offers robotic solutions for palletizing, de-palletizing and handling and these systems are highly efficient and quite easy to maintain.

The company strives to optimize its human–machine interfaces. They have developed special solutions for automatic picking, stacking and individual integration of transportation units such as trolleys, oxes or pallets.

Columbia Okura offers the A series robotic palletizers, three models of which are described below:

  • A700 Robotic Palletizer -The A700 robotic palletizer offers high reliability in minimal space. The product loading and unloading is completely automated. It works tirelessly and is an excellent solution for all palletizing needs.
  • A1800 Robotic Palletizer - This palletizer is capable of 1800 cycles per hour and can stack over 28 bags/minute. It has a payload capacity up to 310 lbs and a 360° range. The touch screen interface enables convenient operation and user pattern programming. It is compact and energy efficient and does not require much maintenance. It significantly reduces downtime and ensures high consistency.
  • W Line - The W Line has a payload capacity of more than 770 pounds. The touch screen interface offers easy operation and user pattern programming. These robots can lift heavier loads when compared to any other with speed and flexibility to meet your needs.

References

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