You know that you need to start palletizing… it’s getting bad… product boxes are piling up on your line and your workers can’t palletize them fast enough.
Every day, you see your people rushing around to complete the palletizing tasks, trying to fit it in between their other tasks.
But it doesn’t matter how much they do and how hard they work, your team just never manages to stay on top of so much moving product. You know they’re doing their best, but the palletizing task itself is causing the problem.
The curse of success
Palletizing is one of the most common automation tasks right now, and with good reason! Many companies are struggling to keep up with their palletizing tasks amid growing orders and worker shortages.
It’s all part of the “curse of success”. Your company is doing so well and receiving so many orders for shipments that it has “broken” your internal processes.
Palletizing automation could be the solution, but there are some things you need to remember.
You need to address that manual palletizing problem
You might think that you just need to throw more people at the problem. If you could find more people to do the palletizing, you would get on top of all these orders, right?
But it’s not so simple.
Unless you’re in an extremely privileged position right now, you’re probably struggling to find enough workers to perform palletizing jobs. Skills shortages are a huge problem across several industries. The warehousing and logistics industry, for example, is facing “one of the worst staff shortages in known history.”
And you want your business to keep growing. This means increasing your orders, which means shipping more products, which means more palletizing.
All this means that you can’t rely on people for palletizing. In the current climate, manual palletizing is unsustainable for all but the smallest of operations.
If you don’t want manual palletizing to restrict you from growing, you likely need to automate.
The mindset shift: Auto palletizing and the robotic solution
Until relatively recently, logistics was seen as a business activity with little added value. Companies saw logistics as a necessary and uninteresting cost. Innovation was low as a result.
Things have changed. In recent years, companies like Amazon have turned our idea of logistics completely on its head. They continue to innovate the steps involved in moving products from suppliers to customers.
Even a small innovation in your logistics can set your company apart from your competitors.
Logistics efficiency refers to a company’s optimization of resources for logistics tasks. By improving the efficiency of your logistics steps, you can differentiate yourself in your market.
Palletizing is often a very inefficient task. This makes it ripe for innovation. It is the final packaging step before you send your products out the door. With collaborative robot palletizing, you can quickly and easily automate your palletizing tasks, without needing extra workers.
5 things you must remember to start palletizing right
What do you need to remember to be successful with robotic palletizing?
Here are 5 things that you should keep in mind when you start palletizing:
1. Commitment and engagement
Let’s be honest. If your workers are completely disengaged and miserable with their jobs, they will probably be unhappy if you suddenly add a robot onto the line.
Adding a palletizing cobot can be a strategy for improving employee engagement, but you have to get people committed from the start. Get your people on board early and enlist their knowledge and insights during the deployment.
2. Enough products to palletize
Seems obvious, right? There’s no point in going to all the trouble of adding a palletizing robot — or any other form of automation — if you haven’t got enough volume for it.
If you only fill one pallet every week, a robot is overkill.
The minimum level required to justify a palletizing robot is a lot lower than people think. And it varies depending on the situation. Just make sure your numbers make sense.
3. An attitude of “let’s just do it.”
A big mistake companies make with robotics is thinking “We’ll get round to adding automation when we’re ready. When we have the time and resources.”
This mindset often puts you in a catch-22 situation. The reason you need to add automation is that you don’t have enough time or resources to keep on top. Adding a robot can give you that time, but you won’t get it until you’ve added the robot.
4. A little bit of technical know-how, but not much
Almost anyone can deploy a robot to their facility. As long as the robotic solution is intuitive enough, you can deploy your own palletizing robot.
Having said that, a little bit of technical know-how goes a long way. The more you understand about programming, automation, and robotics, the quicker you will be able to get your palletizing robot up and running.
If you don’t have any technical know-how, don’t worry. Lots of help is available.
5. A drive to keep growing and improving
Adding a palletizing robot may well help you to remove one of your biggest bottlenecks. When your team doesn’t need to rush to palletize products all the time, they can spend their time on more value-added tasks that help your company grow even further.
For this reason, it helps when you have the drive to keep growing and improving your operations. You will likely identify other tasks that you can automate once you have installed your first robot, which leads you on a journey of continuous improvement.
See how other companies have added robot palletizing
Seeing is believing, as they say.
You can see how other companies like yours have implemented robotic palletizing to great effect on our palletizing solutions page.
What has been your mindset around palletizing automation in the past and how has it changed recently? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or the DoF professional robotics community.