Earl Wohlrab, Manager of Robotic Integration at Intelligrated® Talks to AZoRobotics about Automated Material Handling Solutions.
Can you give the audience a brief introduction to Intelligrated® and the products offered by this company?
Intelligrated® is a leading North American-based, single-point provider of automated material handling solutions with operations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Intelligrated designs, manufactures and installs complete material handling automation solutions, including conveyor systems, IntelliSort® sortation systems, Alvey® palletizers and robotics, Real Time Solutions® order fulfilment systems, warehouse control software and advanced machine controls—all supported by 24X7 Customer Service and Support.
Serving the warehousing, distribution, consumer product manufacturing, postal and parcel markets, Intelligrated® collaborates closely with its clients to develop productivity solutions and support their needs throughout the life of their material handling systems.
Intelligrated® has recently launched two new enhancements for the Alvey® 950 series hybrid palletizers. Can you describe the new features for these palletizers?
Hoist-mounted stretch bander (or wrapper) – The stretch bander allows those customers with unstable loads to move the palletized load to different areas of the facility without the need for an additional stretch wrapping machine. A more tradition stretch wrapping ring can be purchased in place of the bander ring depending on your needs.
Integrated PLC control platform –The use of PLC control for the robot motion allows the entire machine to be run on a single control platform. An additional benefit is that we use a Rockwell Automation PLC, which greatly broadens that field of programmers that can perform the work.
How do the robotic arms operate from a single PLC for these palletizers?
Special AOI’s have been developed by our various suppliers that allow the several axis of motion to be controlled by the single processer.
What are the main applications for your robotic systems?
Intelligrated has several areas of expertise in the field of robotics. Palletizing, depalletizing, case packing and material picking to name a few.
How do the integrated robotic arms to the hybrid palletizers increase pattern flexibility and facilitate product changeover?
The use of robots for case handling in hybrid palletizing allows us to form a nearly unlimited amount of pattern configurations in a very small area. Another interesting benefit is the precision placement of cases in the pattern forming field allow for more general setup of items like layer guides.
The integrated PLC control system is designed to reduce start-up time, training, programming, and troubleshoot costs. How is this performance likely to evolve over time?
There is a good sized delta between the amounts of people that are knowledgeable with PLC v. those knowledgeable with propriety robot language. It’s my belief that over time industrial users in the material handling field will make the integration of robotics as seamless as other equipment, based solely on the common use nature of the PLC.
How do you continue to expand your robotic palletizing capabilities?
We are continually being challenged by our customers to expand robotics into new areas of the plant and DC.
Do you think that the integration of automated material handling systems has had a vast impact on human labor and the economy?
I’m not sure about “vast”, but it is changing the landscape in a positive way. In general the industrial robot is moving humans into technical positions operating or repairing the arms that have replaced them in doing the mindlessly repetitive or dangerous job they once held.
What are the major challenges ahead for automated material handling technology and how does Intelligrated plan on taking on this challenge to keep ahead in the target the industry?
Innovation is very serious business at Intelligrated. I can’t speak about new product development, but I can say that we are in tune with our customers’ needs and we have several initiatives that will be moving robotics into areas that they are not seen at present.
About Earl Wohlrab
Earl has a Bachelors of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Southern Illinois. Following university, Earl Wohlrab has moved on to become a Palletizing and Robotics Systems Product Manager for Intelligrated® and has over 17 years of material handling experience to support his current role.
Earl also has over 10 years of experience in robotics. An expert in palletizing machinery, Earl has delivered seminars on such topics at at conferences including PMMI, RIA and other industry events.
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