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Robots for packaging exhibit performance enhancements

Robots for packaging exhibit performance enhancements
Advances in robotics from Pack Expo include ABB’s “extremely accurate” simulation software (left) and Blueprint Automation’s infeed sortation system (right) designed to be positioned upstream of robots.

These two developments from Pack Expo exemplify how robotics suppliers like ABB and packaging machinery builders like BluePrint Automation are responding to interest and growth in deployments for robotics in packaging and other industries by continuing to optimize robots’ capabilities.

The proliferation of robotics for packaging was literally on display throughout the halls of Pack Expo (see article links below) along with the corresponding advancements in hardware and software to make these systems perform better for packagers.

Richard “Rick” Tallian, manager, packaging products & applications, ABB Inc., provided an insightful booth tour during the show that pointed to hardware developments. For example, ABB’s IRB 1200 models are lighter in weight and 10% faster and operate within a larger work envelope. All this broadens their applicability in packaging-related functions.

Notably, the firm has made corresponding software improvements including, according to Tallian, recent updates to RobotStudio and the Palletizing PowerPac. “In the palletizing PowerPac, we can simulate the complete robotic palletizing work cell.”  ABB has compared the performance in the virtual robot environment to physical robot performance; Tallian calls the simulation results “incredibly accurate.”

The Robot Studio Picking PowerPac is a new feature for “pick simulation” (a screen display is seen in the above left portion of the image for a delta-style robot setup) to virtually predict and optimize the functionality of robotic systems. “The Picking PowerPac allows systems integrators and end users alike the ability to easily design and develop picking simulations that can be directly downloaded to the robot controller for operation in the real world,” says Tallian.

Blueprint for optimized robotics

This sortation and spacing system from BluePrint Automation optimizes the flow of one of the most popular and yet challenging packages to handle, flexible packaging.

The narrow, modular system takes product in bulk such as pouches and singulates them ahead of vision-guided robotic operations downstream.  At the booth, the unscrambler (shown in right side of top image) singulated pouches ahead of a delta-style pick-and-place robot. The system allows the packager to install as many or as few modules as needed; the demo system was a dual-lane configuration of 10 modules each.

It will automatically space and turn packaged products and is claimed to be easily adjusted in pitch and roll. It is a capable of speeds up to 300 bags per minute and can handle products in thermoforms as well.

Company spokesman Robbie Quinlin informed Packaging Digest that about 10 of these systems were installed for one customer about three months earlier.

For more on robots, see also our two previous reports from Pack Expo: Packaging machines integrate robots to increase production flexibility and 5 trend-setting robots in action at Pack Expo.

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