Enhancing Warehouse Operations with Robotic Automation

The overall functionality of various types of robotic systems is stronger now than ever before. With established robotic manufacturers like FANUC and ABB expanding their wide variety of offerings- as well as the emergence of newer robotic companies seemingly every week- the market for these types of systems is extremely customer friendly. But for the everyday business owner or factory maintenance manager, the primary question becomes “which robot should I choose to help my process today?”

That is precisely where Precision Automation® enters the conversation with a wealth of knowledge and experience- not solely with robotic systems and material handling applications- but through an engineering perspective. By working with several different robot vendors and proudly possessing nearly 80 years of experience assisting customers, our team uniquely identifies what actions need to be taken to boost efficiency within your warehouse operation.

Streamlining Labor Processes

The most effective impact that robotic systems can yield within warehouse operations is executing the repeatable manual labor processes otherwise carried out by employees. The day-to-day tasks of product transport, storage, and inventory management can be extremely taxing on any individual, and with added safety costs or worker’s compensation in the event of an injury, can be unexpectedly expensive for any given business. Implementing effective robotic solutions into your warehouse operation can instantly mitigate some of those risks and provide companies with a strategic advantage over their competition.

With the market for robots in warehouse operations to exceed $14 billion in the next 5-6 years, the need for robotic integration is evident for companies of all sizes. If you recently walked the trade show floor at Pack Expo 2023 in Las Vegas, this would not be a surprising figure given how many companies were displaying robots in their booths (Precision included!) But this type of supply saturation also makes these robotic systems more affordable for the customer.

With the continually advancing robotic technology, both in terms of overall functionality and programmability, every party involved achieves numerous benefits: manufacturer, integrator, and customer alike. Between taking on the labor-intensive tasks that employees previously had no other recourse but to execute, to enhanced utilization of warehouse space, to providing a safer work environment overall- facilities can realize gains in no time with robotic integration.

Palletizing and Depalletizing Operations

Just about every warehouse or distribution center has a designated area for end-of-line palletizing operations. Integrating a robotic solution specifically designed for palletizing cases to be prepared for shipment is a quick way to alleviate manual labor issues and ensure that the pallets are uniform and consistent.

Palletizing robots do not need to be overly complex, as their recurrent movements and actions are often contained to two planes so a 4-axis robot is sufficient- so long as it is the correct choice with enough reach that can handle the respective weighted payloads of each case. This recent article in Packaging Technology Today confirms that “manufactures and distributors of all sizes are turning to mixed-case palletizing to accommodate demand-driven loads.”  Palletizing robotic systems provide perhaps the most immediate impact within warehouse operations, executing the repeatable manual labor processes otherwise carried out by employees.

Fanuc palletizing robot

Depalletizing operations are very similar, utilizing automated systems to de-stack product at the beginning- rather than the end- of a line. But similarly, the process of unloading a pallet is just as repeatable and lessens the need for manual labor that can otherwise be re-allocated elsewhere within a facility with plenty of human needs. Robotic solutions in this realm can also be easier to maintain than traditional depalletizing units as they tend to require less maintenance & costly upkeep.

Customized Robotic Solutions

For as many robotic systems that have specific functions like palletizing, several more are basic and ready to be programmed to whatever custom task you need to accomplish. The x-factor for customizing a robotic solution is choosing the right end effector: the peripheral device connected to the wrist of the robot, allowing it to interact with the respective objects. Many end effectors fall into a category of grippers that pick products, but the options range into specialized process tools like screwdrivers, welding heads, paint spray guns, and countless others.

A number of robotic arms are also offered with built-in vision systems which assist with the job of locating the parts or products the robot is about to pick. However, for the ones that do not automatically include the vision component, the Precision engineering team has plenty of experience integrating these technologies together. Working with various vision system suppliers gives our company the advantage of selecting the one that would best complement your warehouse requirements.

robotic end effector

How Can We Help Your Operation?

We at Precision Automation recognize that each facility is unique in its processes and practices, and we will not try and “fit a round peg into a square hole” with our customers. Instead, we aim to find out where the pain point or bottleneck is with your operation and identify what robotic solution can solve this and instantly improve efficiency through automation.

Feel free to contact us today and inquire about our robotic automation solutions, and which one would be the best fit for your workplace environment. Our sales engineers look forward to hearing more about your process so we can begin planning, designing, and implementing the perfect solution for your needs.

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