Many businesses need to ship or receive items in bulk. Stacking products on pallets allows you to easily organize, store, and ship items, but the actual stacking process can be slow, exhausting, and potentially dangerous for employees. Countless businesses have turned to robotic palletizers to automate this process and make their employees’ tasks easier.
But what are robotic palletizing systems? How do they work, what types are there, and how can they benefit your business? Learn the types of robotic palletizers for different use cases, their advantages, and how to find the right palletizing solution for your needs.
What Are Robotic Palletizers?
Robotic palletizers allow businesses to automate the process of stacking inventory on pallets.
Traditionally, stacking products required manual labor. A conveyor belt would bring products down the line; workers may have to rotate the products into position, lift the products off the belt and onto the pallet, and perform other jobs. This procedure is repetitive and time-consuming, with ample room for error.
A robotic palletizer handles the work of arranging and stacking items on a pallet, reducing the risk of error and freeing employees to focus on other projects.
How Do Robotic Palletizers Work?
Like a conventional system, a robotic palletizer uses a conveyor belt to move items. Unlike a conventional system, however, it uses robot technology to arrange and stack items instead of requiring employees to move items manually.
As products move along the conveyor belt, the system will maneuver a pallet into place. A robot will take the products, twist them into the correct position, and place them on the pallet. The robotic palletizer places each of these items, layer by layer, onto the pallet until it’s full. An employee or another robot moves the pallet from the packing area, and a new one takes its place. The process repeats from there.
Types of Robotic Palletizers
Several robotic palletizing solutions are available for different use cases, each with unique advantages.
SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm) palletizers imitate the human arm. These flexible arms allow for continuous, quick operation and superior precision. They have limited up-and-down movement, but they work well if you want to stack items quickly.
Gantry palletizers are, as their name implies, palletizers suspended from a gantry — that is, an overhead structure suspended by braces. A sled moves items where the palletizer’s claw mechanism can pick them up, and the claw then moves the items onto a pallet.
Depending on the system you get, your gantry palletizer can lift or lower the product, move it along a straight line, or reorient it. While large, they work well for heavy items.
Cartesian palletizers utilize a robotic arm to move items along several different axes. These palletizers are not as fast as other types, but they’re reliable and work best for stacking items that have a uniform size and weight.
Articulated palletizers, like SCARA palletizers, utilize a robotic arm. However, this articulated model includes a more flexible joint, allowing for a greater range of motion and faster processing speeds. Their flexibility allows them to handle many different types of products, from canned goods to beverages.
How Are Robotic Palletizers Used in the Food and Beverage Industry?
Businesses in the food and beverage industry use warehouses to store products. Many stores and restaurants buy items in bulk — which means purchasing several pallets of items. Food and beverage suppliers stack items on pallets carefully to prevent damage and ensure easy shipping. Unfortunately, human error during the stacking process may lead to damaged products, slow stacking times, and other potential problems.
Robotic palletizers take some of the stress out of this process. They can stack items swiftly and efficiently, handling each item with care to reduce the risk of damage. With robotic palletizers, professionals in the food and beverage industry can worry less about product loss or delayed deliveries. In addition, automating the process allows companies to assign workers to other projects, improving their business’s overall efficiency.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Robotic Palletizer?
Robotic palletizers come with a range of advantages, from increasing your overall productivity to reducing errors. By investing in one, you can help your company operate more smoothly.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity
Even the best employees have their limits. Stacking pallets is tedious work, and employees may grow tired as the day wears on. This exhaustion can lead to reduced stacking speed — which also means that workers will fill fewer overall pallets in a day.
Robots don’t have the same limitations as humans. They never get tired, allowing them to perform continuous work. In addition, they often work much faster than humans can. This means that they can operate for as long as you need them to without reducing efficiency, allowing you to increase your overall productivity.
Stacking speed isn’t the only thing that may decrease as workers grow tired. The longer someone has repeated the same task, the more likely they are to make mistakes or not stack items as carefully as they should, which may mean potential product damage, messy product orientation, and other issues.
Robots allow for increased accuracy. Once you program your robotic palletizer, it can quickly and accurately stack items, allowing for consistent and reliable work.
Reduced Labor Costs
Employing people to stack pallets manually can be expensive. You’ll need to pay workers potentially large wages, give them time for breaks, offer vacation and sick days, and provide other benefits. All of these costs can add up, which can affect your overall budget.
Robots don’t need the same expenses. Utilizing a robot palletizer means you can reduce overall labor costs, helping you to save money in the long run.
Enhanced Flexibility to Handle Various Product Types
Robotic palletizers can handle almost any type of product, whether you need to move large, heavy items or smaller canned goods. This versatility allows you to adjust the palletizer to meet the needs of your business.
Lower Risk of Workplace Injuries
Repetitive strain injuries are some of the most common medical problems working professionals face. Constantly lifting items onto a pallet can lead to back injuries, sore muscles, and more. In addition, if items are particularly heavy, a worker could drop one and injure themselves.
Robots may not entirely remove the risk of injuries, but they can reduce them. By letting a robotic palletizer handle the hard work, you can reduce the risk of employees sustaining repetitive strain injuries, hurting themselves via products or heavy equipment, and more.
Regulatory and Safety Standards for Robotic Palletizers
If you plan to use a robotic palletizer, then you may need to put certain safety features in place — for example, safety fencing and curtains. In addition, states may have their own rules and regulations, so make sure you look into local laws before investing in one of these systems.
Robotic palletizers are amazing tools that can help you automate otherwise tedious processes. At TDI Packsys, we offer a range of robotic packing products to choose from. We aim to provide the highest quality products in the industry, helping you streamline operations and improve production. Reach out to us at (877) 834-6750 to explore your options and purchase a robotic palletizer.