It is challenging to choose a palletizing robot, especially if you do not know whether it will adapt to your operations. Another reason is that varieties of robot manufacturing companies provide numerous options for palletizing robots.
Suppose your current packaging system is not fast or good enough to keep up with your production volume. In that case, you might need to opt for an automated process. Traditional automated palletizing systems can take up a lot of room on the manufacturing floor, and if you are a small industry with limited space, this could be challenging.
Your best option would be a palletizing robot. With several available options in the market, how do you know which one is appropriate for the needs of your processes? Why should you choose palletizing robots over traditional palletizers?
Why Choose A Palletizing Robot System Over A Traditional One?
When it comes to palletizing automation, robotics is not your only end game. Suppose you are palletizing thousands of similar goods per minute in a completely automated, extensive manufacturing line. In that case, a traditional industrial-palletizing system might be a better match. A layer palletizer is the most common option for conventional robotic palletizing.
Layer palletizers are multi-level machines that sit at the end of a manufacturing line. Conveyors feed products into the machine. Fixtures or actuators then move them to the correct position and orientation along the conveyor. After bringing the products together, the layer palletizer places them onto a moving belt.
After that, the conveyor belt ends up onto the pallet to release the products. Layer palletizers have some drawbacks: the inability to handle mixed pallets or products of varying sizes and forms. They also have severe limitations on the amount of packaging material the machine can handle, making it almost impossible to convey lightweight, delicate, or vulnerable goods.
In any case, the highest benefit of automation is the versatility and flexibility it provides your business. Unlike traditional layer palletizers, present-day pallet automation systems can readily manage diverse pallets with items of varied shapes and sizes. You can almost surely do your selected palletizing task using a robot as long as there is a secure product arrangement on the pallet throughout transit.
Layer palletizers cannot handle many products such as heavy sacks, weighty drums, and delicate parcels, to mention a few. However, palletizing robots can handle the same with ease. You can also use end effectors such as suction grippers, custom grippers, and even distinctive futuristic grippers for particular purposes to tailor your robot palletizing process to various products.
Different Types of Palletizing Robot Systems to Consider
There are varieties of palletizing robots to consider depending on your applications.
1. Dedicated palletizing robots
For the most palletizing processes, dedicated palletizing robots are the best options. They are enormous robots with a lot of capacity for payload and a long-range. They typically employ axis coupling, a structural feature that enables locking the robot’s elbow actuators into its base, enhancing performance, speed, and payload capacities.
Because the end effector must always point downwards, these usually only have five axes. The only disadvantage with an axis-coupling palletizing robot is that the joints depend on one another, making it challenging to program.
2. Collaborative palletizing robots (COBOTS)
A collaborative palletizing robot or cobots are a new entry into the market but gaining popularity across many packaging industries worldwide. They are also smaller as compared to traditional industrial robots. Even though they may perform less well than others may, especially in speed and payload, they compensate for that with improved safety.
Cobots are a smart alternative if you need to palletize a limited number of products or get a person away from a tedious operation. Moreover, they have a distinctive benefit: they can work without safety barriers and work well alongside their human counterparts. They are versatile, flexible, require low maintenance, have compact space-saving designs, and reduce cycle times.
Many industries employ them for low-performance, small-scale palletizing. They are also easy to integrate efficiently to a variety of sectors to improve various processes. The purpose of packaging collaborative robots, frequently utilized for light operations, is to place goods or products in cases or trays.
Case palletizing robot systems offer compact, refined designs that provide speed and precision while stacking medium to large payloads of cases, containers, sacks, pallets, and boxes. Packaging and palletizing cobots meet high packing standards and provide an effective, error-free answer to unfavorable, repetitive work needs.
3. 6-axis Industrial Palletizing Robots
6-axis robots are high-performers and highly flexible industrial robotics. The robots are some of the most popular industrial robots used for various applications, ranging from welding to 3D printing. With the correct end effector, palletizing with a 6-axis industrial robot is undoubtedly achievable. It is also one of the best alternatives if you do not want to add another robot for future tasks.
The six-axis articulated-arm robot can move in the x, y, and z planes and orient itself utilizing rolling, pitching, and vertical movements, thanks to its six axes. The articulated arm feature is appropriate for intricate motions that mimic a human arm. Mobility and extensive horizontal and vertical reach are also advantages of the 6-axis robots.
Industries specializing in palletizing and packaging employ 6-axis robots for truck loading, putting items in cartons and cases, and tray packing operations.
4. Gantry Palletizing Robots
Gantry palletizing robots can handle a wide range of loads for practically any application that needs hoisting by an overhead crane. The main types of Gantry robots are Cartesian and Linear robots. They have replaceable grippers, and rather than rotating like a robotic arm; the axes glide linearly in proportion to one another.
5. Delta Robots
Delta robots use three servo-driven arms attached to a central “delta” plate to produce swift motions. The most frequent axes of motion are four, but three and six axes variants are also available. These robots’ speed and their capacity to integrate vision systems make them the ideal mechanical devices for picking and placing objects. Still, they are also suitable for palletizing processes.
6. SCARA Robots
SCARA robots are more suitable for smaller palletizing projects because they are more appropriate for lightweight, precise part production tasks. However, there are some SCARA robots specifically designed for heavy-duty palletizing.
Before choosing a palletizing robot, you should first be clear about the applications that need automating. Besides determining that, you should also be specific about the weight of the products, material properties, size and shape of the products, throughput, and robot programming.
You should also determine if you would need it for other applications besides palletizing. All this will help to narrow down the robot specification suitable for your palletizing applications.