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Palletizing and Depalletizing with Cobots

Geoff Schreiber | 28 March 2019

Palletizing and depalletizing with collaborative robots (cobots) just made a huge step forward! 

With recent software updates, the largest capacity cobot (35kg/77lb. available payload) was increased to 750mm/s while operating in its collaborative state, from a previous 250mm/s.  The Fanuc CR-35iA pal/depal from Bastian Solutions has a soft foam cover as well as custom designed safety tested end effectors, allowing the system to handle a range of product sizes and styles while eliminating the need for safety fencing (and potentially area scanners) and reducing the required floor space footprint.

Plug and Play Palletizing Solution

This collaborative robot palletizing system utilizes pallet patterns selected from an intuitive operator interface – no teach pendant experience required.  For depalletizing operations, feeding replenishment operations, variety pack systems, mixed product order pallets, and palletizing operations, we have developed a ‘plug & play’ system with integrated sensors to locate product and ensure reliable, repeatable transport reaching (and sometimes exceeding) 480 units/hour with optimized layouts.

These systems can be quickly assessed for your specific beginning or end-of-line processes to help you begin optimizing value flow and eliminating costly repetitive motion injuries as soon as possible.

Safety is Key to Collaborative Design

Collaborative systems are only as viable as the collaborative design of the entire work cell.  Bastian Solutions will work closely with end users to identify correct end effector technology, sensors, and safety requirements to create and implement a certified collaborative solution.

With safety as the top priority, cobot implementations must specifically adhere to RIA and ISO safety requirements (as specifically called out in ISO/TS 15066). Engineers perform risk assessments and mitigate risks through protective measures, customized workspace designs, and implementation of safety control systems.

Additional validation is sought through third-party safety risk evaluations and employing new testing methods. The latest safety verification and validation processes include collection of details like quasi-static and transient contact force measurements and collectively applied risk reduction measures – all allowing Bastian Solutions to keep contact situations below threshold limits.

Is Cobot Palletizing or Depalletizing Right for You?

When evaluating an application for palletizing or depalletizing with a collaborative robot, what kind of requirements should drive the decision?  Consider the following:

  • Are you limited on footprint?
  • Would putting a safety fence up limit operator or maintenance access or egress paths? 
  • Are there machines or other equipment that are nearby or even interfacing with the robot? 
  • Do you need continuous operations where one pallet may require removal or changeout while the robot continues operations on a different pallet or task?
  • Is your product less than 35kg/75lb (end effector weight must be considered in the payload calculation)?
  • If product weight is substantially under payload, could multiple products be picked at a time to improve rates and meet production demand?
  • Is the product inherently safe (is an operator already handling the product safely)?
  • Is there substantial floor vibration or forklift traffic near the work cell?

For an evaluation of your application, contact Bastian Solutions and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.  With several systems designed and implemented, real-world experience and lessons learned can be applied and shared with your team to ensure a successful cobot system implementation at your site.  While many sites buy into collaborative robots, many of them sit unused after several months due to lack of experience or understanding of the application.  Our team will not let that be your experience!

Author: Geoff Schreiber

Geoff Schreiber is the Engineering Manager for Bastian Solutions robotics division in Saint Louis, MO. His role includes leading the engineering efforts of the mechanical, electrical, and automation disciplines for standard and custom projects as well as coordinating the research and development of new robotic technologies such as goods-to-robot bin picking for fulfilment and replenishment operations. A graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Geoff has over 20 years’ experience in software and PLC development in addition to technical design direction for mechanical and electrical products, parts, and components for equipment and machinery.


Brayn says:
4/10/2019 02:15 AM

Really Great post! Thanks

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