How cobot palletizing can help businesses fulfil objectives
- What business objectives do cobot palletizers help fulfil? Whether you’re looking to cut costs, improve worker safety and engagement or boost productivity, a collaborative robot palletizer can help.
- Is a cobot palletizer efficient? As it requires little to no downtime and will never slow down or put itself at risk due to fatigue or overexertion, a cobot palletizer is a very efficient addition to your business.
As factory automation becomes accessible to even the smallest businesses, cobot (collaborative robot) palletizing is one of the first areas business owners are looking to explore. Of the many robot applications, palletizing is a popular choice to drive workplace efficiency, reduce costs and keep human workers safe. Here are just five of the ways cobot palletizing can help your business reach its key objectives.
Manual palletizing is hazardous, even for the most safety-conscious and resilient employees. Proper training and enlisting workers with the right physical capabilities can go a long way to keeping your people safe. But with an inherently riskier task like palletizing, there’s always potential for accidents to happen as well as long-term health issues due to repetitive heavy lifting.
The Australian Institute for Health and Safety ranked “lifting, carrying or putting down objects” as a top three cause of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace. And in the UK, the Government's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that 18% of non-fatal workplace injuries were due to handling, lifting or carrying tasks. It's not just heavy loads that pose a risk either. UK law firm JMW states that “overexertion and tiredness” is the top cause of injury, particularly when carrying out tasks essential to palletizing like lifting, pulling and pushing.
Cobot palletizing will protect your people from injury or reduce the risk greatly. For example, your cobot could replace night-shift workers and allow your people to work when they’re well rested and alert. Or, it could work alongside your people (subject to risk assessment clearance) to boost your stacking and packing capacity without pushing human workers to the point of exhaustion.
Palletizing robots don't just help to keep your people safe. They can also free up your workers from some of the most tedious tasks on the production line and boost their satisfaction.
If your employees do leave, they may not be easy to replace, either. Manufacturers say it’s 36% more difficult to find the right people today than it was in 2018, according to Deloitte. Bringing in a robot palletizer to handle a task that can be easily automated will allow you to move your people to tasks that cannot be automated, perhaps due to complexity or price. You'll get more out of the human resources you have and can take a mind-numbing task off their hands at the same time.
We all have our inherent strengths and one area where robots and cobots tend to beat their human colleagues is in cold, hard efficiency. One study found that robots can increase productivity by 30% and many require little to zero downtime in a 24-hour period. Unlike people, robots don’t need to sleep, eat or take breaks to maintain maximum efficiency.
At the same time, humans have strengths that cobots cannot even attempt to match. Even as some of robots’ biggest fans, we’d never suggest companies replace the entirety of their skilled workforces with machines. Lots of products require creativity, rely on the instinct of a craftsperson, or use something other than measurements or formulas to achieve a result. In these instances, the mathematical ‘brain’ of a robot won’t be a good fit for the task.
Cobots and robots are also a poor fit for roles which rely on human empathy, discretion and understanding to keep your workforce happy and productive. The ultimate aim of automation isn’t to remove humans from the workplace, but to shift them into more fulfilling roles that properly utilize their strengths.
Lower operational costs
The labor shortage in sectors such as manufacturing has been well documented. In the US alone, it’s estimated there are around 11 million unfilled positions at present. As such, you may find yourself relying on expensive agency operatives or face the constant hassle and expense of recruiting new workers. A palletizing cobot allows you to automate one of the most important jobs in your business. It's a cost-effective solution that typically achieves a return on your investment within 12 months and eliminates costly recruitment efforts.
There is another benefit to factory automation and its cost savings. Ultimately, reducing your operational costs will increase your profits and allow you to reinvest this money into your company. By cutting out extra expenses, you may find you’ve got the budget to increase your workers’ salaries, upgrade your equipment or introduce new company benefits, making your company and the people who power it much stronger.
Lower warehouse footprint
If you’d like to bring automation into a smaller working environment, a palletizing cobot is an excellent solution. Unlike traditional industrial robots, which are bulky and often need to be surrounded by safety cages/barriers, cobots take up far less space. In fact, the smallest cobots have a footprint of just 500mm and can be mounted onto benches or even ceilings to further minimize the space they take up.
Interested in finding out more about a palletizing cobot? Get in touch with one of our experts.