Robotics in palletizing

Published on 2021-02-09

Automation and industrial robotics have been increasing in recent years. The great progress that has been made so far, allow us to predict that the technology of the 21st century will allow us to achieve great advances, despite adverse circumstances such as the one we are experiencing now.

Automation in palletizing

Palletizing consists of placing the merchandise on a pallet for to be stored and transported, thus saving space, and considerably reducing the handling time of the merchandise. Palletizing takes place, therefore, at the end of the production cycle. The reverse process (that is, removing the goods from the pallet) is called depalletizing and, unlike the first, it is carried out at the beginning of the cycle.

Both processes have undergone automation, since it is a job that involves large loads in the shortest possible time. Due to the risks, it entails for the health of operators, manual palletizing is currently in disuse, being limited in most countries to a maximum load of 25 kg.

Thanks to the multitude of options and speeds and its flexibility, this automated way of working has been in force in the world of pallets since 1950, but it was not until 1990 when great advances were achieved thanks to support structures and articulated-arm robots.

The optimization of the palletizing task through robotics is impressive: while an automatic palletizer can make up to 4,500 references per hour, a robotic palletizer can exceed that figure.

Without a doubt, in the world of automation, palletizing robots are a highly profitable proposition both in time and in economic costs.

Industrial robotization

Industrial robots are multifunctional manipulators that help optimize time and costs. In addition, they have the great advantage that they are reprogrammable, that is, their calibration depends to a greater or lesser extent on human hands (in this case, technicians, and operators).

For these reasons, industrial robots are widely used in palletizing and depalletizing processes, and the combination of both offers the company that uses them flexibility, but also speed and reliability. In addition, it allows repeating this process, in the same way without differences in the loads.

According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), Spain. Germany, France, and Italy are the European countries that are at the forefront of robotization, along with China, USA, Japan and South Korea. In 2018, in our country there were 53,000 robots, which means 16.8 for every 1,000 workers. The first came in 1973.

For which sectors is this technology most suitable?

Robotization is used in many sectors:

  • Textile and footwear.
  • Furniture.
  • Stationery.
  • Plastics.

Although undoubtedly the most important are:

  • Automotive: 48% of industrial robots are used in this sector.
  • Metallurgy: we found only 20%.
  • Food: 13%.

What is a palletizing robot?

As its name suggests, a palletizing robot is a robotic system that is responsible for stacking the merchandise on the pallet. For the depalletizing process, there are depalletizing robots, responsible for removing the material from the pallet and introducing it to an assembly line.

The most important element is the robot, since the software with which it is configured allows it to perform tasks autonomously.

Palletizer robot utility

The purpose of these robots is to automate the collection and stacking of a product on a pallet or platform in a smaller space than the conventional one.

Each palletizing robot is custom designed considering the needs of the task and the space available to carry it out.

Characteristics of palletizing robots

These manipulators generally consist of 4-6 axes with servo grippers that allow them to lift heavy weights.

They can perform cycles quickly and precisely, combining boxes and materials of different sizes and weights thanks to technologies such as artificial vision.

In addition, they improve the productivity and efficiency of the processes, and avoid unwanted work accidents.

Advantages of palletizing robots

  • They work 365 days a year.
  • They work accurately despite repetitions.
  • Risks due to ailments from exposure to materials in addition to weight are avoided.
  • Amortization of the price.
  • They adapt to palletizing needs.
  • High performance.
  • Optimization of processes, which leads to the competitiveness of companies.
  • They can withstand extreme temperature conditions.

Operation of the robot / robotic pallet system

The way in which robotic systems work is very simple, since they seek to imitate the human way of working:

First, the robot takes the pallet and places it in a palletizing area.

A conveyor belt of rollers or belts makes the material reach the palletizing dock where the reference stops.

Thanks to the servo grippers, the robot can pick up the goods, which it places on the pallet.

When completed, it is removed, and the cycle continues from the beginning.

At Naeco we are aware of innovation, that is why we seek to develop efficient products and solutions. Our triple certification (ISO 166002, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001) guarantees the quality of our pallets, always committed to the environment.