Do you want to maximize your manufacturing facility’s efficiency while reducing employee injuries and workers’ compensation claims? Consider the benefits of utilizing cobot palletizers.
If you’re new to industrial automation and robotics, you might wonder, “What is a cobot palletizer?” and how can it help your business. At TDI Packsys, we create innovative solutions for production facilities that produce efficient and safe environments. From inspection to packing, we know that better equipment equals better results. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about collaborative robots.
What Is a Cobot Palletizer?
Cobot stands for collaborative robot. Cobots differ from normal robots by working with employees rather than replacing them. Whereas a robot works at speeds or in conditions humans can’t handle, a cobot shares the working conditions with the employee.
So, combining these terms, a cobot palletizer is a robotic palletizer that stacks items on a pallet, working alongside other staff in the plant.
Function and Purpose
A cobot palletizer automatically stacks cases of completed goods and products onto a pallet, which employees then transport for shipping or storage. These cobots work well in a wide variety of industries, including e-commerce, food production, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and logistics.
Advantages and Benefits
Now that you know “What is a cobot palletizer?” consider the advantages and benefits of using them.
Even the best workers don’t work at a consistent speed and require breaks. A cobot doesn’t rest and moves at a consistent rate to maximize the number of items you can pack and ship in a day.
Enhanced Employee Satisfaction
The repetitive movements of stacking items on pallets can strain employees’ backs. A cobot palletizer frees your employees to perform other, more specialized tasks and reduces strain. With fewer injuries and more fulfilling tasks, employees stay happier and healthier.
Improved Bottom Line
With more efficient packing and fewer workers’ compensation claims, cobots can improve your facility’s bottom line. Most business owners see a relatively quick return on their investment, and implementing cobot palletizers helps you scale your business faster.
You can train most workers to program the cobot, and it can handle a wide variety of palletization tasks. Its small footprint means you can move it around your facility with little effort or cost. Depending on your production goals and needs, you can change the type of products it lifts and how quickly it operates.
Few Safety Concerns
Cobots work safely beside humans and require no extra space or safety precautions to avoid injuring workers. Many models even contain technology that helps them sense potential collisions and stop moving before they occur. Safety features on types of cobots include:
- Hand-guided: Rather than automation, an operator manually controls these basic cobots, making accidents less likely.
- Safety monitored stop: These cobots use radar and monitoring equipment to sense when an object or person enters its space and stop until the obstacle clears.
- Speed and separation: These cobots use the same technology as safety-monitored stop cobots, but instead of stopping completely, they modify their speed to keep working at a safe pace until the employee leaves the space.
- Power and force limiting: PFL cobots sense when something touches them and stop functioning immediately.
Types of Cobots
The International Federation of Robotics categorizes cobots into four types, depending on how they collaborate with employees in the workforce.
These cobots occupy the same workspace as employees, but their tasks don’t overlap. Most applications of cobot palletizers fall under this category because it’s a task that requires no employee supervision or interaction.
Sequential cobots work with humans, but rather than directly responding to what the workers do, they complete tasks before or after the employee as part of the sequence of production. Cobot palletizers sometimes fall into this category if a worker directly interacts with them by placing the package in the cobot’s workspace for it to load onto the pallet.
These cobots respond directly to an employee’s actions, for example, by helping assemble the pieces of a product or organizing a set of products the human provides. In these instances, the cobot modifies its speed and actions to match and react to the employee. Most palletizers do not fall into this category.
Cooperative cobots essentially function as human-like employees, working directly alongside the human regardless of the employee’s response time or other actions. They work on the same product, doing the same task simultaneously. One example of a cooperative task is quality inspection, where the human and cobot simultaneously check a product for defects or problems.
Because of the repetitive and simple nature of loading and stacking, a palletizer rarely falls into this category.
Comparison with Industrial Robots
Knowing the answer to “What is a cobot palletizer?” helps compare them with other industrial robots.
You can incorporate a cobot palletizer into your workforce much faster than a robot. They often don’t require altering your facility’s layout, and large-scale implementations require only a couple of weeks from validation to installation.
More Simplistic Operation
Whereas robot palletizers require knowledge of their specific coding language and technical expertise, the pattern-focused interface of the cobot allows nearly any worker to program it with minimal training. Many cobots can learn and adapt on the job as well.
Though industrial robots typically require a lot of space for installation and safety, cobot palletizers require roughly the same space as humans.
Reduced Work Capacity
The biggest disadvantage of cobots is that they can’t work as quickly as other robots can in fully automated production lines. Because they work closely with humans, cobots operate at safe speeds and don’t lift more than a human could.
While prices vary depending on customization and other requirements, cobots typically cost 30-60% less than comparable robot models.
Reduced Environmental Impact
Cobots are a better solution for sustainability-focused companies because they reduce waste, take up less space, and use less energy.
Implementation and Integration
In addition to loading pallets, cobot palletizers have three common implementations that benefit production facilities.
- Deconstruction: You can program a cobot to unload stacked pallets or even deconstruct the pallets for recycling purposes.
- Upcycling: Cobots can sort manufacturing waste so you can recycle it or use it in other areas of the production process.
- Downcycling: Because they can deconstruct products and sort materials, cobots are equally effective in downcycling. If you value recycling, consider the flexible ways you can use your cobot to increase the efficiency and accuracy of your waste-reduction methods.
A recent ABI report predicts cobot use will grow by around 32%, creating an $8 billion industry by 2030. Technological advances will increase the versatility, precision, and learning capability of both cobot palletizers and other forms of automation. Soon, cobots should provide the ability for multi-factory workflows and data analytics that further streamline the manufacturing process.
What is a cobot palletizer? If you run a production facility that stores or transports products, it’s an automation feature you can benefit from. At TDI Packsys, we provide automation solutions that help protect your employees and your profit margin. Call TDI Packsys today at (877) 834-6750 to learn more about cobot palletizers.