Robots! Generally, the image that comes up first in our minds is the flashback of the movie ‘The Terminator’. Funny how we humans are wired to think in such a way. But what are robots really?
It is an automatically operated machine that is made to replace human effort. Although, it may resemble humans in every way, be it appearance or performance. Robotics is the engineering discipline made to deals with the design, construction, and operation of robots.
Packaging robots offer many prime benefits in applications across the industrial sector.
Usually, when we talk about manual processes, humans are in the action doing work such as data entry or verification, while when we talk about automated processes it involves one or more machines performing tasks, such as scanning with many others.
Speaking of packaging robots, it brings the speed, productivity, and accuracy that robotic automation is known for, all while delivering a proportionately fast return on investment (ROI) when stationed correctly.
What Packaging Robots Do Exactly?
The answer is depending on the end of arm tooling (EOAT) – a given robot leverage, which means software robots that handle repetitive tasks that were traditionally performed by humans. Most often, packaging robots are designed to open, fill, transport, palletize, label, seal, code product packaging and packing of goods or involve the movement can be automated by a packaging robot.
Robots are used in a variety of ranges in industries. Most common remains for packaging products in consistency, accurately & with high quality to protect product integrity.
Most Common Types of Packaging Manufacturing Robots
Industrial robots are an important part of the packaging manufacturing process. Let’s look at commonly used robots in packaging.
They’re classified as having rotary joints and are usually arm shaped. The number of joints can range from two to ten.
Used commonly for welding, cutting, material handling, packaging & assembly.
They work at a fast speed and don’t take up much floor space. However, they are complicated in their programming & require a dedicated controller.
Also called gantry robots, they can control heavier loads than that of articulated robots.
Used commonly for loading, unloading, assembly & applying sealant.
They are cost-efficient, strong, and simple to operate. However, they’re complicated to assemble & require a large operational area.
Also called parallel link robots, consisting of three sets of parallel arms & can move in a 360 degrees circular motion.
Used commonly for pick and place, product transferring,3D printing, and assembly.
They have a better range of movement and work accurately at high speed though they require a dedicated controller and are complicated to operate.
Robotic Startups Impacting the Packaging Industry
When we talk about robotic packaging solutions, one thing that comes to our mind is about its efficiency while performing tasks at a consistent level of accuracy. Here is a list of some excellent startups that have combined computer vision with AI & robotics.
- Packit - It offers automated bagging solutions. It is very handy and useful in loading work, and also in labelling bag items.
- LYRO Robotics - It combines computer vision, robotics & AI, and helps in packing & picking. Also, it is helpful in agriculture which results in speeding up the lengthy process.
- IAM Robotics - It has developed a swift robot, which is a mobile manipulation robot. It is designed for material handling. Also, it navigates multiple passages using machine vision technology for the robots to locate and see objects 3D in real-time.
Why Is Robotic Packaging Automation The Upcoming Shift?
While handling any business, a key way to maximize the sales potential is to be careful and mindful of costs. Creating a competitive product is one thing that is important, and making that product available to the consumer in a cost-effective way is another important aspect of successful businesses.
With an automated production line, you don’t have to worry about employees getting sick or unavailable. Rest assured, the production level is expected to remain high and the end product will always be made up of high standards.
In particular, it mimics human movements and takes human beings out of the process without sacrificing the yield of the process. Although it is not advised to eliminate the need for good & reliable staff. It also provides a chance to remove the unskilled tasks that many humans find boring.
To have a win all the way around for that provides an opportunity to maximize your staff while increasing productivity.
Robots Over Humans In The Packaging Industry
Well, let’s consider some of its benefits, and why robots have been chosen over humans in the packaging industry.
Flexibility, accuracy & consistency
They require minimal maintenance. Robots are tireless and can work at a high speed of 70,000 hours or more before requiring any mechanical failure.
Increase in productivity & also a single robot can perform the tasks of multiple humans in less time and with greater accuracy.
Picking & placing
Intelligent enough to align, identify and place the product robots are excellent at the packaging.
Also removing such baked goods from containers is much of a delicate work that must be executed with precision.
Denesting, boxing & palletizing
Removing empty packages from a bundle or to ready-to-be-filled eatables is a repetitive and necessary process, robots can do this task quickly and efficiently.
With that, comes the work of boxing and preparing them for shipment. Then stacking them onto pallets - while reducing worker injury. The global packaging robots market is projected to grow from USD 4.3 billion in 2021 to USD 14.4 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 12.3% during the forecast period.
Few Pitfalls of Robotic Packaging Automation
Let's talk about some pitfalls we might face in this revolutionary upcoming technology:
Misunderstanding accuracy vs repeatability
A repeatable machine may or may not be accurate, accuracy is key for particular movements but repeatability is necessary to enact those movements again & again.
Failure to accept robotics technology
It can be designed rightly for a business, but implementation from humans is the key.
Without users understanding and appreciating the technology, the production capabilities remain limited.
Robotics & The Future
Quite simply, using robotic package automation enhances and avails the company to expand operations with accuracy and consistency while reducing any signs of injury among the staff. Therefore, robots help businesses compete because they can do better and faster than humans. However, robots cannot perform every job, so they’re best at assisting us in conducting research and performing industrial tasks. Finally, as technology improves, there will always be new ways to utilize robots which will bring new potential.