Palletize with built-in intelligence

Software for robotic palletizers enables easy adjustment of layer patterns and load configurations.

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Because of their inherent flexibility in load building, robotic palletizers deftly handle a variety of product types and sizes once a stacking pattern has been programmed into the system. Where they’ve been less flexible, however, is in the ability of a user to make minor adjustments to existing load patterns to accommodate changes in product dimensions, explains Doug Stoll, palletizing product manager at Intelligrated.

“One of the big challenges in the robotic palletizing market today is handling products that may be just slightly dynamic, says Stoll. “For example, a case of oranges might not be perfectly square year over year; one year they’re 20 inches wide, the next they have a slight bulge and they’re 20.5 inches wide.”

With most robotic palletizers, a new pattern would have to be created to handle that new dimension, Stoll continues.“ That means a supplier technician comes in for additional programming or to use a pendant to teach the robot the new pattern—which increases total cost of ownership,” he explains.

To eliminate those additional steps (and costs), Intelligrated recently released IntelliGen software integrated with the robotic cell’s standard programmable logic control (PLC) system. Using a touchscreen, the software enables an on-site user trained in the platform to adjust an existing load pattern and other handling characteristics, including row forming and case turning, in real time—no supplier intervention needed.

“It’s formula based, so each pattern is created as a template that can be modified then saved as often as needed, right at the robotic cell,” he says. “There’s no need to reteach the robot, program it offline, upload or download the pattern, or fly in a supplier technician. The built-in intelligence accommodates SKU proliferation, multiple package types and sizes, slight variations in secondary packaging and other factors that a robotic palletizing operation might face.”

Available for palletizers equipped with robots from Kuka, Fanuc and Motoman, the IntelliGen platform also supports multiple end-of-arm tooling options and up to four different in-feeds and load-building stations, adds Stoll. “That allows a single robotic palletizer to handle a variety of packaging types, including corrugated cases, plastic totes and bags, for maximum flexibility.

About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

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