What Are Robotic Palletizers?

Robotic palletizers systems mechanize the process of stacking items onto pallets. They can also be configured to depalletize, a crucial part of many production lines. In addition, robotic palletizers tackle some problems that their counterparts, conventional palletizers, couldn’t.

Conventional palletizers have been around for more than five decades, and they consist of a series of related trappings and conveyors. As products trickle down the conveyor, it rotates and twisted to the ideal orientation prior to forming rows. Next, the rows are mildly pressed onto a layer-forming table, and the layers are then placed on pallets.

As with their conventional counterparts, a palletizing robot often utilizes an in-feed conveyor. However, they don’t adjust items by sliding them on the conveyor. Instead, a machine manipulates the products by twisting them as they head down the conveyor or by lifting them into a position directly on a pallet.

As with most rival technologies, both conventional and robotic palletizers have pros and cons. Conventional palletizers have quicker cycle times at up to 200 cases per minute. However, the series of conveyors needed to adjust the items means they need more space.

On the other hand, palletizing robots excel at working the product, including stacking bags and pails or turning boxes for display reasons with labels out and handling high-SKU counts in multi-line processes. However, since they’re often tasked with executing slower functions such as turning product, their yield is more variable as opposed to conventional palletizers.

Types of Robotic Palletizers

Gantry Style

A gantry is a framed build with an overhead span and side supports. Basically, a gantry-style robotic palletizer is just a palletizer suspended from a gantry. These are the ideal for massive loads at small speeds because they can handle single items as well as layers and rows.

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Gantry-style robotic palletizers have a sled that runs along tracks suspended over the work area. End effectors are lowered and raised to adjust and move the product. Depending on the system, gantry robots can move products in 2, 3, or even four axes.

This means they can suspend the product and move it in a straight line for 2-axis machines, or possibly across two dimensions for 3-axis robots as well as 4-axis systems.

Layer Forming Style

Layer forming palletization often comprises a series of robots, each with its own task. A basic system will have one pedestal kind robot mounted along a conveyor.

The robot will move and adjust the product on the conveyor to get to the end stop; it’s already in the ideal configuration for its layer. Once a layer has formed, the end stop is ejected, and the layer is passed on to a layer-handling robot.

Mixed Case Configurations

Mixed-case palletizing robots can take cases and boxes of various shapes and sizes and create stable layers from them. There are a couple of ways to do this.

A pedestal-kind palletizing robot mounted on a track can run between a series of pallets in a staging area. The palletizing robot lifts the product at each pallet and sets it onto the receiving pallet in a preset stable configuration.

A diverse system can use a series of conveyors to convey merchandise to a staging area. On the way, pushers or robotic arms can guide and adjust the product.

Pedestal

Pedestal-style palletizing robots are arm-like machines attached to pedestals. They come painted in a variety of colors such as beige, red, white, yellow, etc.

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Palletizing robots often have four axes, although they can have five or even six axes if need be. The amount of axes determines the machine’s DOF (degree of freedom) in lifting and placing products 4-axis palletizing robots can pivot along their base, reach for items, raise or lower the item and turn their end effectors to adjust that product.

Their capacities vary from a couple of pounds to more than a ton. A single machine can be configured to palletize several lines, or multiple units may palletize a single line.

Their processes are pretty straightforward; pallets are situated in the designated area by a mechanized pallet dispenser or manually. The palletizing framework may or may not be configured to place slip sheets on the pallet.

Simultaneously, a product that has gone down an in-feed conveyor hits an end stop. Using end-of-arm-tooling such as a gripper or vacuum, the robot lifts the product solely or in batches. Product is placed on the pallet in various configurations, which can be alternated if need be.

What Are The Benefits Of Robotic Palletizers?

Improved Safety

In the US, sprains, strains, and tears are the most common workplace injuries. In general, these are caused by lifting heavy items, repetitive movement, or both. Manually stacking and automatically stacking products on and off pallets is the kind of work that can cause injuries.

Another way to protect operators from risk is not to place them in danger. Palletizing robots remove operators from risks associated with stacking product.

Human Factors

Removing people from the unwelcome task of placing items on pallets can positively affect the morale of your entire company. Feeling that you have a purpose and moving to that purpose is a crucial part of living a self-actualized life.

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By removing this low-quality task, staff can get opportunities for more value-adding jobs, enhancing their general outlook on life and their self-esteem. This, in turn, will enhance morale and increase staff retention.

On-Time Production

Since robots are quicker and more dependable than people, their output is more predictable. A robot that turns 20 cycles a minute can do this for 24-hours without needing a break like manual operators. This implies that you know precisely how long it will take to create enough layers to pack a single pallet or a trailer load of pallets.

Zero Damages

In repetitive jobs such as palletizing, robots are more precise than operators. Robots move how they are configured each time. As a result, they aren’t distracted by loud warehouse noises, they don’t confuse one SKU for another, and they don’t rush as well.

What this means for products is that they aren’t dropped and damaged. In addition, they aren’t stacked on wrong pallets, under something too heavy, or in the wrong orientation.

Final Thought

To sum it all up, as with any kind of automation, realizing the ROI (return on investment) of an automated palletizer requires you to select the ideal robotic palletizing solution. Then, later on, you can implement it properly.

 

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