Do you want to use a robot for palletizing? Great! Just don’t fall into the trap of making these common mistakes.
The decision of whether you should invest in robotic palletizing can be a tough one. If you’ve already made this decision, you might think that your work is done.
But, there are a few more decisions you’ll have to make before you have an operational palletizing robot. Many of these decisions relate to the robot deployment.
People often make mistakes during this early stage.
Here are 9 common mistakes people make with robotic palletizing:
1. Choosing the wrong pallet or size
A very common issue with palletizing is choosing the wrong pallet itself. There are various types of pallet including wood, plastic, and metal. Some may be unsuitable for your specific palletizing task.
Similarly, there is a range of pallet sizes that you could use with different structural properties.
Make sure that your pallets match the requirements of your task and are supported by your robotic solution. The Palletizing Solution, for example, can handle pallets of widths and depths between 300-1219 mm and heights of a minimum of 50 mm.
2. Selecting a system with insufficient height
Many robotic palletizing solutions on the market can only handle shorter pallet heights. This makes them unsuitable if you stack your pallets higher.
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting about the pallet height when you are selecting your robotic solution. Also, consider if you might want to increase the height of your pallets in the future.
The AX Series Palletizing Solution supports pallets up to 2.75 m and the PE Series Solution supports pallets up to 1.5 m.
3. Forgetting the pre and post processes
Deploying a robotic palletizing system involves more than just the palletizing itself. Your task may have other pre-processes and post-processes.
Examples of pre-processes include labeling the boxes, reading QR codes from tracking labels, and sorting items before the palletizing.
Examples of post-processes include wrapping the pallet in shrinkwrap, performing an inspection, or labeling the entire stacked, shrinkwrapped pallet.
Users of The Palletizing Solution often find that the palletizing task itself is the easiest part of the robot deployment. The pre-processes and post-processes are where they encounter the most challenges.
4. Overlooking the programming step
It’s easy to forget about programming when you are looking at different palletizing solutions online. You watch a video or read a data sheet and you think “This solution looks like it could suit my needs.”
The available programming options can either make your robotic solution extremely easy to use or extremely complex. You usually don’t see this step in videos.
The best robotic palletizing solutions are so easy to program, you need hardly any training to use them. Even if you have no experience with robotics, you can get the solution up and running in just a few hours. Other solutions require extensive robotic experience and training.
5. Underestimating the deployment work
You can deploy some robotic palletizing solutions in a matter of hours or days. Other solutions take a lot longer and require significant robotics experience and skill.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating how much work a robot deployment will take for you and your team. It’s usually better to overestimate the deployment than underestimate it. You can then be pleasantly surprised when you are able to deploy the robot more easily than you thought.
Even better, do some research to accurately understand what the deployment will involve. You can see a robot deployment in action in our free palletizing course.
6. Not involving the team upfront
Possibly the biggest mistake that some companies make around robot deployment is not getting their team involved. They add the robot to the line out of the blue and the team reacts badly.
When you involve your team from the start, they will be much happier about the robot. They can also provide insights and experience that will make the deployment run more smoothly.
Your team members have probably been doing manual palletizing for a long time. They have unique perspectives on the task that can help you get the most from your palletizing robot.
7. Ignoring overhangs and other issues
A common mistake with manual palletizing is overhangs. This is when some of the upper layers fall out of alignment and hang over the edge of the pallet. This destabilizes the pallet and can cause products to fall during transit.
With robotic palletizing, keep an eye out for any issue that you would also want to avoid with manual palletizing. Robots are more consistent than humans so there is less risk of issues like overhangs, but they can still happen if you’re not careful during your deployment.
8. Not using the support you have available
You don’t need to do everything on your own.
If you haven’t deployed a palletizing robot before, you might feel like you have to learn everything yourself. But there is a lot of support available that you can take advantage of. The DoF robotics community is a great place to go for help from a whole community of robot users.
If you’re using The Palletizing Solution, you can also call us at Robotiq for help. This is available whether you have bought your solution from an integrator, distributor, or direct from us.
9. Not seeing the solution working upfront
You can avoid many of the common mistakes by just seeing your palletizing solution in action upfront. Ideally, you should also get the opportunity to interact with the solution and try programming it for yourself.
This is the single most important step that many people mention when they chose to use a Robotiq solution. When you see your solution working, it’s much easier to anticipate potential mistakes that you might make.
At the very least, watch a video of the palletizing solution in action. You can find some videos and an interactive palletizing configurator on our product page.
What mistakes have you made with palletizing in the past? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or the DoF professional robotics community.
Read more about this on: Workfloor: Robotics News for the Factory