The evolution of automation has changed our world. Robots directly collaborate with humans, working side-by-side and assisting them in their work. Aware of their surroundings and performing multiple types of tasks safely in close proximity to human workers, collaborative robots or co-bots have proven to be a success factor when we talk about technological improvements. They are designed to increase productivity and precision, having quite a penetration in mild responsibility programs consisting of line loading and unloading, assembly, painting, and, of course, palletizing.
There are many ways companies can benefit from using a collaborative robot for industrial palletizing, and the following four are the most important.
Collaborative Palletizers Save Space
A collaborative robot can be installed as a palletizing robot in a space that is on average 60% smaller than a traditional, automatic palletizer. This is especially important for businesses that are trying to optimize small production floors.
Collaborative Palletizers Reduce Costs
There are several things that need to be included in ROI calculation when it comes to collaborative palletizers. Beside capital costs, you should include the potential risk of injury and workers compensation claims (opportunity cost or loss). With all these aspects included, you can come to the conclusion that collaborative robotic palletizers can be justified in less than a two-year payback. And besides that, using a robotic collaborative palletizer allows you to deploy your staff to higher level tasks (more than simply stacking cases).
Collaborative Palletizers Reduce Worker Injury
When we talk about the interest of using collaborative robots it’s not just efficiency or the extra hours the robot can work in a shift. They become a production assistant in the manufacturing process. As we already mentioned, handling cases in a repetitive manner is a perfect set up for repetitive motion injuries. On the other hand, collaborative robots are intrinsically safe. Any interference will stop the robot. If the robot features safety sensors, it will slow down to a safe impact speed if a sensor is activated.
Collaborative Palletizers Provide Enough Speed For Most Applications
It is true that collaborative robotic palletizer is not allowed to run as fast as one that is within a fully-enclosed safety guarding system. However, with a smart system design picking multiple cases with each move and the safety sensor system, some palletizing robots can run at speeds of up to 12 cases per minute. In a 24 count case for small cartons, that is a 288 carton per minute line speed. Most applications are slower than that.
A Word of Caution
Be sure that you choose an integrator that is experienced with robots, product handling and your specific needs for the project. You don’t want to risk your team’s safety and your capital by choosing the wrong partner.
Also be sure you select a collaborative robot that is proven in the field and tested with a significantly long duty cycle. Not all players in the marketplace are robust enough for your project.
Openstack, collaborative palletizer developed by Nortech Packaging features one of the best co-bots on the market. Fanuc’s CR-35iA features immediate contact stop and visual part recognition and it is a co-bot made specifically with palletizing/de-palletizing in mind. With payload capacity up to 80 lbs, this is one of the largest co-bots on the market. The Open, safe, guard-less layout allows machine operators to work side by side with the robot, and dual pallet and slip/tier sheet stations allow for uninterrupted operation.
The future is here! So, are you ready to reduce worker injury, consider a better use for your people, make good use of your capital and keep your line footprint small with a collaborative robotic palletizer? We think you are!