Honeywell’s Latest Palletizing Robot Utilizes Machine Learning and New Gripping Technology
What is this new smart palletizing robot from Honeywell and how can it promote factory automation?
Depalletizing is the process of taking a product off a pallet and placing it on, rather a conveyor belt or directly into another machine. This process doesn’t sound complicated in theory, but when performed by a human can have serious health risks. Palletizing is common in warehouse operations and industrial environments where goods need to be organized and stored.
How it Works
Once the pallet is detected to be in place, the vision system takes over and detects the highest package’s location and angle. The robot will then lower to pick the detected package and turn on the vacuum grippers. Once a full vacuum is reached, the robot will raise and move the package to the offload position. The system is designed in such a way that no human intervention is required.
Honeywell’s palletizing robot in action. Video used courtesy of Honeywell
A typical depalletizer is programmed and taught to a specific product, pallet shape, and size. The consistency of the product being removed from the pallet is very important as the programming or the taught positions for the robot won’t change on their own. Honeywell has addressed this problem by using machine learning and advanced optics that use perception to determine the height of the package being picked. The system can even detect packages that are sitting at an angle.
Smart Gripping Technology
End effectors are typically designed for very specific applications with limited flexibility. Honeywell has designed their new end effector to be customizable, allowing it to fit into most packing operations. The end effector is also designed to be delicate and not damage the package by using “soft-gripping” technology. The gripping technology accommodates packages that are stacked in unconventional ways.
Removing a product from an incoming pallet often requires heavy lifting. Honeywell designed this end effector to do the heavy lifting so that humans don’t have to. This new end effector allows virtually any size or shape of a product to be removed from a fixed source and transferred to an outgoing conveyor or automated guided vehicle (AGV).
Honeywell's smart depalletizing robot. Image used courtesy of Honeywell
As shipping costs becoming more expensive, packing multiple goods onto one pallet may save time and money. The idea of using an automated robotic system allows the company to quickly sort goods without the risk of injuring an employee.
Companies are always trying to reduce potential health and safety risks in the workplace. Sometimes they can alleviate certain pain points and risks by using personal protective equipment, sometimes through the use of operating procedures.
In the case of removing heavy, awkwardly shaped boxes from a pallet, installing an automated robotic cell that performs the work for the operator can be the best method. If an employee gets injured in the workplace, there are major implications for the employer and the employee. These risks are far too high for removing products from a pallet.