Most know the use of the term “collaborative robot” by now. So, that’s the early give-a-way of the title of this blog post. More importantly, why use a collaborative robot for industrial palletizing?
Saves Space: We have found that we can lay in a collaborative robot as a palletizing robot in a space that is on average 60% smaller than a traditional, automatic palletizer. This is critically important when working in the life science industry where factory or suite space is a premium.
Reduces Cost: Looking at the capital cost and including in the ROI calculation the cost of labor as well as the potential risk of injury and workers’ compensation claim (opportunity cost or loss) collaborative robotic palletizers can be justified in less than a two year payback. Using a robotic collaborative palletizer allows you to deploy your staff to do what people do best – not simply stacking cases.
Reduces worker injury: As aforementioned, handling cases in a repetitive fashion is a set up for worker injury. And collaborative robots are intrinsically safe. The smallest of interference will stop the robot or if using the safety sensors, the robot will slow to a safe impact speed if a sensor is made.
Enough speed for most applications: True, a collaborative robotic palletizer is not permitted to run as fast as one that is within a fully-enclosed safety guarding system. However, with a smart system design using multiple picks of cases with each move and the safety sensor system, we’ve found we can safely deploy collaborate palletizing robots that run as fast as 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.
Two notes of caution.
Be sure that you choose an integrator that is experienced with robots and product handling for your project. There are a number of entities that have popped up as robotic integrators but their roots are elsewhere. Don’t risk your team’s safety and your capital choosing the wrong partner.
Lastly, be sure you select a collaborate robot that is field proven and tested with a significantly long duty cycle. New players have emerged in the marketplace that may or may not be robust enough for your project.
Consider a better use for your people, reduce worker injury, make good use of your capital and keep your line footprint small with a collaborative robotic palletizer.