PALLETISING ROBOTS

Overview of Palletising Robots

Palletising robots easy to program

Robot palletising refers to an industrial robot arm performing the operations of loading or unloading automatically.  Thus, manufacture can increase the consistency, speed, and production of the loading and unloading process with palletising robots. Furthermore, these robots require specific end of arm tooling based on the palletising products such as bags, boxes or parts. 

Robot Palletising Operations

We find that more and more companies are using industrial robots for palletising operations. Palletising robots are good at repetitive work and they are very precise.

Top 3 Advantages of Robotic Palletising System

There are a number of advantages in using an industrial robot for this work:

  • Firstly as mentioned above this is a highly repetitive task which is very tiring for a human worker. The human worker building up products onto a pallet will require numerous breaks. However, the robot will be able to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if necessary.
  • The industrial robot can lift much higher weights than a human worker. The recommended maximum weight for a human worker is 25Kg. So, this reduces when the movements require the arms to be outstretched. For example, in the case of building up large pallet formations. The industrial robot can work with payloads up to 1000Kg if necessary. Even though the most common robot types used for palletising tend to be robots with a payload capacity around 180Kg. In this case, it’s usually the required reach that dictates the robot size rather than the payload.
  • The industrial robot will have a much greater palletising speed than a human can achieve. The cycle time between a product being picked up and placed and the robot returning to the pick position will be shorter than a human can achieve.

Main Elements of PALLETISING ROBOT CELL

Palletising robots cell

1. The palletising robot

Firstly we have the robot itself. Considerations here are for payload, envelope and cycle time. In terms of the payload, this will be the maximum weight that the robot can handle. The total payload will be the weight of the product plus the weight of the gripper. The robot payload will need to be greater than the combined weight of the product and gripper.

Keep in mind, if the centre of gravity is away from the centre of the mounting flange this will reduce the payload capacity of the robot.

2. Gripper for Palletising robot operations

Fitted to the robot will be some form of gripper for picking up the product. However, there are different types of grippers depending on the product and the required stacking pattern.

First, in the case of a pneumatic finger-type gripper, this will open around the product and have fingers that close to clamp the product. In this way, it will stop the product from moving during the movement of the robot. When used this type of gripper remembers to consider the stack pattern as at the moment of placing the product the gripper will open and push any product already palletised. Usually, the gripper will release the product above its position in order that the gripper has room to open.

3. Vacuum for Palletising & Handling

An alternative solution is to use a vacuum system rather than fingers for picking up the product. In this case, the product is held in place by an array of suckers which usually grip the product from its upper surface. Therefore, this system has the advantage that tight stacking patterns can be produced allowing the products to be placed up against products already on the pallet. 

4. Cell Safety Panel

To control the complete cell a safety panel with cell control pushbuttons will be installed which is electrically connected to the robot controller. This panel will include the safety relays for the two safety circuits for the robot and any ancillary equipment. One circuit will be for the Estops, these will stop the robot in all modes, the other will be for the cell access and this will stop the robot and spindle whenever the robot is running in Auto mode.

5. Layout Palletising Cell

The cell will also need some form of guarding which will form a room or enclosure to make sure that nobody is present whilst the robot is working in automatic. The usual layout for a palletising cell is to have two pallet locations with the robot in the middle of the two.

The robot will palletise to one side and once completed will move over to palletise the second side. Then, while working on the second pallet the first pallet is removed and replaced with a new empty pallet.

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