Is your business ready for cobot palletizing?
How can you tell if a palletizing cobot will suit you?
Maybe your people are spending far too much time on manual palletizing. You think a robot might help.
Or maybe you’ve just heard about robot palletizing. You’re curious about whether it might meet your business needs.
You’re interested to learn more but you don’t know how to get started. Perhaps you think that robotic palletizing is only suitable for people with high-volume manufacturing operations.
It would be helpful to be aware of the signs that indicate when a business is ready for automated palletizing.
With the advent of collaborative robotic palletizing, there are now even more opportunities to benefit from this highly effective method of packing automation.
If your process isn’t productive enough for conventional robot palletizing…
People often think that automated palletizing is only for manufacturers with very high-volume productions.
This misconception is understandable. When you search for “palletizing automation” you will inevitably find many videos and photos of very high-volume operations — e.g. food manufacturers producing thousands of products per hour, logistics companies shipping hundreds of pallets per day, and videos of huge palletizing robots that could lift a car.
You might see such videos and think “There’s no way we could fit a robot that big in our business!”
Most conventional palletizing robots take up a huge amount of floor space. They are big, bulky, and require a high throughput of products for them to be viable.
Like many people, you might see all this and think that palletizing automation is just not suitable for your business. You might decide: “If we ever reach the point of mass production, we will reconsider robotic palletizing, but for now we’re just not ready for it.”
This would be a mistake.
Cobot palletizing: Bringing palletizing to anyone
Recently, a new form of robotic palletizing has arrived on the scene. It allows anyone to get the benefits of palletizing automation without restricting you by requiring extremely high throughputs.
You have probably heard about collaborative robots by now. They are smaller than your average palletizing robot and are much more accessible to anyone, no matter your level of robotics experience. They are perfectly suited to businesses operating at lower volumes.
Cobot palletizing has recently become even more accessible with the advent of easy-to-integrate application kits. Thanks to these advancements, you can now access the benefits of automated palletizing whatever the size of your operation.
But, before taking the plunge to invest in cobot palletizing, it’s important to take a step back.
You will still want to determine if cobot palletizing is the right choice for you.
What are the signs that your business is ready for a palletizing cobot?
7 signs your business is ready for cobot palletizing
There are various signs that a business might be ready for a palletizing cobot.
Here are 7 common ones:
1. You spend a lot of person-hours on palletizing
A clear sign that your business is ready for a cobot is when your people are spending a lot of their time manually palletizing products. Maybe you have one team member working on the task almost constantly or they spend a whole day palletizing product that has been piling up during the previous days.
2. There is a decent product throughput
If you’re shipping only a few products per day, a palletizing cobot is probably not the best option. However, if there is a relatively consistent throughput of products waiting to be palletized, cobot automation is likely to be worth your while. You don’t need to be operating at high-volume but you do need to be operating at some volume.
3. You can invest a little time in robot deployment
Cobot deployment is very quick compared to almost every other type of automation. You can get a cobot up and running within a few hours and have it deployed within a matter of days or weeks — compared to several months for the alternatives. But, it will take a little time to deploy the robot. You will recoup this time very quickly when the robot is operational.
4. People are held back from more important tasks
When your people aren’t able to do other important tasks because they are spending too much time on manual palletizing, this is a great sign that a cobot will be beneficial. All the time spent manually palletizing products is essentially wasted time that people could be spending on more value-added tasks.
5. Your current palletizing is problematic
Manual palletizing is not just a non-value-added task. It can also be very problematic. The repeated manual handling of products can cause ergonomics problems that lead to worker injury. Plus, it is less consistent than robot palletizing and leads to more product breakages and defects. If you’re seeing these problems, a cobot might be a good solution.
6. Competitors are shipping quicker
Of course, the signs that you’re ready for a palletizing cobot might not come from inside your company. If your competitors are shipping products quicker than you are able to, there is a possibility that your palletizing operations are to blame. A palletizing cobot can help you to get products out the door quicker.
7. Your employees feel like robots
A common sign that you are ready for robots is when your employees start to feel like robots themselves. The tasks that are perfect for robots are those that are extremely dull for humans to carry out. Palletizing is just such a task. It involves carrying out the same repetitive movements for hours on end.
How to move ahead when you’ve decided you’re ready
Do any of these 7 signs fit your situation?
If so, there is a good chance that cobot palletizing could be the right solution for your business. It can help you to palletize your products quicker, more consistently, and without wasting valuable person-hours that could be spent on more value-added tasks.
If you would like to learn more about whether cobot palletizing could help you, check out Robotiq Palletizing Solution.
What palletizing task are you currently considering? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or the DoF professional robotics community.