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Targeted Warehouse Automation: Manual Pallet Handling

April 13, 2023

stacking and wrapping pallets with manual processes
While many companies can benefit from full scale automation, the math isn’t the same for everyone. However, labor shortages continue to drive companies to seek ways to reduce dependence on manual processes in specific, labor-intensive functions. What are some areas you should target for partial automation?

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Posted in Automation, Labor & Efficiency|

Vacuum Grippers and Lightweight Palletizers

August 18, 2022

Vacuum palletizer for a cobot system

One of the most exciting things about today’s automation is that it’s becoming increasingly specialized; like eating from a buffet, you can choose what you want. That’s the idea behind cobot palletizers that zero in on a specific target: lighter weight, end-of-line carton palletizing that used to take high six figures and months of implementation time. The critical part of any palletizing project, of course, is the end effector.

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Automated Palletizing Options: Finding a Happy Medium

July 7, 2022

cobot system with pallet
Robotics in distribution operations aren’t exactly the stuff of the Jetsons; you see them every day. Because end-of-line palletizing involves so much repetitive motion, it’s a prime target for automation. It fits the profile of easily-profiled, repeatable and low-value labor tasks. It’s also back-breaking and un-ergonomic. How do you know if a robotic palletizing option makes sense? And what type of automation fits you?

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Posted in Automation, Labor & Efficiency|

The Future of Robotics: An Interview with FANUC America

October 8, 2015

Fanuc Robotics Family

More and more companies are adding various forms of robotics to their operations as they seek to improve productivity, enhance worker safety, and keep labor costs down. We recently spoke with Wes Garrett, Packaging Account Manager at FANUC America about robotics in the material handling industry. He provided some great information regarding cost of ownership, indicators robotics may benefit an operation, and trends in new technologies.

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The Wonder of Robotic Palletizing

June 6, 2014

Robotic Palletizing

I recently attended an ESOP event at a specialty paints and stains company. During the tour of their plant, I got to see a robotic palletizing system in operation. I was impressed. Standing about 6 to 8 feet away from the action, I watched as it placed 5-gallon cans of paint in rows of 3 stacked 3 high. Each row was offset from the previous one, so that optimum pallet space was used. As the robot picked up cans off the conveyor belt using a vacuum end effector, it placed them precisely on the pallet. Then, it slightly dropped down and “bumped” them to make sure they seated onto the row below. That action made me chuckle as I considered what a profoundly human act that was – a little hip action to make sure the cans seated correctly.

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Manufacturing: Attacking the Skills Gap

February 3, 2014

CNC manufacturing cutting operation with bridge crane

In its 2011 “Skills Gap in Manufacturing” report, the Manufacturing Institute laid out the situation: as American manufacturing continues to expand, a lack of critical skills in the workforce is becoming an increasingly common limitation. In many places, we see classified ad pages full of jobs for skilled positions like CNC machinists, high-volume assembly technicians, welders, or electricians. With a reported 600,000 unfilled jobs in the manufacturing sector, it’s something that has to be addressed.

Certainly, lower-cost foreign labor is still a drain, but there is little manufacturers can do about that. What can manufacturers do?

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Posted in Manufacturing|

Robotics and End of the Line Packaging

November 18, 2011

End of line case packing robot with conveyor

The end of a manufacturing or distribution line is where the rubber meets the road for many operations. It’s potentially the last place where you have direct control of your product before it ships to retailers or direct customers. It’s where you can add a lot of value…or spoil a lot of value. The end of the line in many ways is more important to your company’s image as all its public relations, its websites, its brochures. It is often where your reputation can be made.

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Palletizer Perspectives: Is Palletizing Suitable for My Operation?

August 4, 2008

Palletizer - palletized cans

With the growing popularity of automating the palletizing function, we arranged an interview with vonGAL, a leading manufacturer who has the largest installed base of palletizers in the country. Bobby Edmond is vonGAL’s Director of Applications, and has been in the business for 25 years. He has seen applications in a wide range of industries, and in companies large and small. I asked him if he would take time to share his thoughts, and answer a few questions of interest to those that might be considering palletizing for the first time.

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Palletizers: Ergonomics and Justification

June 30, 2008

Conveyors induct pallets into a palletizer.

As interest continues to grow in automated palletizing, let’s take a brief look at a few of the issues surrounding these applications.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be providing a handful of blog postings relative to palletizers. We will begin with what is driving the growth in the use of these products, then a look at basic systems, cost estimates, what you can expect from a properly applied palletizer system, and then share specifics from a couple of actual implementations in distribution centers. If you are experienced in palletizer systems, you will likely be familiar with much of what is covered here. If you are new to palletizing, or considering your first system, hopefully, this information will help you understand what the issues are and how you can navigate them.

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