Perhaps this scenario sounds familiar: An employee complains of back pain. Previously, he was palletizing goods at the end of a production line or in the warehouse. Shortly thereafter, he drops out because of his discomfort. But it gets worse. He quits because another company offers him a better job.

The question now is how to protect your employees from health problems or even injuries while palletizing. Another important question is how you can attract and retain qualified skilled workers. Especially when it comes to lifting heavy loads or unergonomic movements, Universal Robots’ cobots can be of great help.

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But what can a palletizing cobot do?

Usually, companies deal with automation when they want to become more productive. Cobots then take on a variety of tasks throughout production. Among other things, they load machines, assemble parts, check quality or machine parts.
When automating palletizing tasks, it is not only economic factors that play a role. Here, occupational safety is also a factor. Cobots not only stack reliably and uniformly, they also protect employees from injury. The UR10e cobot, for example, can lift up to 12.5 kg with a reach of 1,300 mm. It does this 24/7 and with high repeatability.

Cobot use in palletizing is very interesting when companies want to handle different carton sizes with one system. Once the cobot is taught, it can grip different products and stack them precisely on a pallet. Compared to traditional industrial systems, cobots can work alongside and with your employees, and they take up significantly less space. If the risk assessment is successful, nothing stands in the way of human-robot collaboration. This also eliminates the need for safety fences and some of the costs associated with integration. Pallets can then simply be removed during operation.

What can a palletizing robot do? 2

How does the automation of palletizing work?

There are a few ways that cobots can be used for palletizing. You need three basic building blocks for this:

  • A robot arm
  • Suitable gripping technology
  • A base

They also need to consider the following aspects to make the application as simple and economical as possible:

  • The footprint of the robot
  • The safety measures of the installation
  • The stacking pattern

When an application is developed, these building blocks and factors are brought together. For application development, the goal to be achieved with the palletizing robot must be clear, as well as what the individual circumstances of the production environment will be.

The following scenario would be conceivable: A potential cobot user wants to increase the throughput of his lines. However, the manual palletizing of the products does not allow for a higher throughput. In his cramped manufacturing facility, he now places a cobot between two pallets, which now continuously stacks the products. When one pallet is loaded, he uses the second. The full pallet is then replaced by an empty one by an employee.

What can a palletizing robot do? 3

What are the benefits of a palletizing robot?

Automation is essential in today’s world for a variety of reasons. Cobots support companies in various areas. Palletizing is one of these areas that can be automated with cobots.

One example is the printing industry. Manufacturers have to produce more and more efficiently in order to compete against their rivals. In addition, printed products weigh quite a bit. If an employee has to place this weight every day, then the risk of back problems is high.
For the print shop industry, this is a solution with a lot of potential.

In other industries, too, collaborative robots are helping to make processes better and more efficient. Gustav Hensel, a company in the electronics industry, now uses a cobot for palletizing. In the past, valuable skilled workers were tied up with this work. Today, a UR10 stacks about 2.5 tons of package mass in an 8-hour shift. To ensure that the system is optimally utilized, two Euro pallets are positioned next to the cobot. Optimizing the process is just one important result.
The employees are also delighted. Because they no longer have to lift tons of weight every week.

Is there a simple palletizing solution?

A new application does not always have to be developed. Often, a ready-made solution can be deployed quickly. One example is the Palletizer from Robotiq. This solution includes all the necessary elements to start automated palletizing quickly and easily.
The movements of the cobot are automatically generated by the program when you specify the carton dimensions, weight and orientation. In a second step you select the dimensions of the pallet and last but not least you configure the pallet layout.

If you want to learn more about this solution, contact us.

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