How to best customize your cobot palletizer for your work
- Why is customizing your cobot palletizer important? No two workplaces are ever the same – and while your cobot can be set up and put to work quickly, you can really extract the most value from your investment by taking a bit of time to customize it.
- What are the main factors to consider? When customizing your cobot palletizer, you need to think carefully about what you need in terms of payload, range of movement and pallet stacking patterns. This will help you choose the right end effectors, support and software solutions.
Using a collaborative robot (cobot) for palletizing automation offers a huge amount of flexibility. And while your cobot can be up and running performing a range of tasks in a few hours, one of the main benefits of this technology is how customizable it is. To get the most value out of your robotic palletizing system, you should look at making sure it is ready to perform at its best in your specific working environment.
How to best customize your cobot palletizer
Another important benefit of cobot palletizers is the ease of use compared to other industrial automation solutions. With a relatively small amount of training, we routinely see how people with little to no programming experience can implement and maintain a palletizing solution. Part of this is about learning how to use the technology itself, but equally important is getting an understanding of all the different factors that can impact cobot performance.
When it comes to palletizing automation, your robot is likely to be dealing with heavy, repetitive tasks. This means getting the speed, reach and payload right is critically important, as is making sure that your cobot is moving efficiently and is supported in the best way. Getting these factors right straight away will not only help you reach ROI faster but also keep your robotic palletizing system in top gear for longer.
Here’s what you need to consider when customizing your cobot.
The company RNB Cosméticos has integrated six Universal Robots UR10 robot arms to perform end-of-line palletizing tasks. The cobots collaborate with the workers in the same workspace, freeing up staff from uncomfortable, repetitive and non-ergonomic tasks that involved carrying 7 kg packages, risking injuries and fatigue.
In the most simplistic terms, if your palletizing equipment isn’t designed to carry the weight you need it to, you can run into problems. But payload is about more than just the weight of the objects you need your cobot palletizer to pick up. Center of gravity, momentum and a range of other factors also need to be considered.
The first point to understand is payload threshold, which does not include the weight of any end effectors or tools added. So, when thinking about which model you need, you should consider the real payload that can be carried to be the one listed in the product specifications minus the weight of the end effector you will use.
Here are some of the other factors that should be considered.
When thinking about payload and implementing palletizing automation, carefully considering reach is important. Ideally, you don’t want your cobot swinging heavy loads around on the edge of its reach as this could create risks of it toppling over or becoming damaged. Our cobots come with a range of reach options – from 500mm/19.7ins with our smallest model to 1750mm/68.9ins with our largest.
Center of gravity offset
Most robots have a maximum allowed payload that decreases with the center of gravity. This is primarily due to the increased amount of torque needed to move objects located far away from the tool flange. To picture this, think of the difference between holding a 2kg cylinder close to your body and with your arm outstretched.
For this reason, your tool design should aim to keep the mass close to the center of the tool flange if you are operating close to the maximum allowed payload. However, advanced robots like ours will take a longer Center of Gravity offset into account and automatically reduce speed in outer positions to protect itself.
Sometimes, defining the payload and center of gravity is not enough. Imagine holding a 2kg ball in one hand and a 2kg rod in the other. Even though both objects have the same mass and possibly same center of gravity, they are very different to move around. The rod would require more rotational force to spin and to stop. To account for this, we have another way to describe the mass distribution more accurately – by defining the Inertia Matrix.
Configuring the Inertia Matrix lets you improve the motion performance and reduce the risk of oscillations and unwanted stops. This can be really helpful when moving oddly shaped objects. The Inertia Matrix can either be calculated by hand or generated automatically in most 3D CAD software.
Pallet stacking patterns
We are a market leader when it comes to collaborative robots, and a lot of that advantage is a result of the relative ease of use of our models. It doesn’t take a great deal of training to get members of your team with little to no programming knowledge managing and deploying cobots on their own.
Nowhere is this more evident than designing, implementing and adapting pallet stacking patterns. The stacking patterns used in palletizing operations are very important – they dictate how many goods can fit onto each pallet as well as weight distribution and overall stability.
Therefore, one of the most important parts of customizing your robotic palletizing solution is putting the right stacking patterns in place. There are a couple of ways to go about this, but perhaps the simplest is to make use of one of the palletizing software programs or application kits from our UR+ ecosystem. For example, PackMate is specifically designed to allow users to design and implement custom pallet stacking patterns without the need for any programming.
Depending on what your cobot palletizer is going to be picking up, you may need to add some additional support or facilitate some extra movement. There are a number of different ways you can set up your palletizing equipment, and we can help you make sure you have the optimal setup. Here are two examples of common setups for palletizing automation solutions:
Fixing your robotic palletizing solution to the ground will make it sturdier but will ultimately limit its flexibility. However, there are a few other interesting options available through UR+. For example, you can utilize magnetic bases to attach your cobot easily to different environments or attach the cobot palletizer to a mobile platform and wheel it around as needed.
Linear 7th axis
Although most cobot palletizers are fixed in one spot, you may want to add some additional movement. Customizing your cobot palletizer with a 7th linear axis like the one developed by igus significantly extends the range of motion and unlocks even more flexibility. Unlike a fixed support or pedestal, your cobot can move up and down the axis as required. The axis can also be implemented horizontally or vertically for an even more tailored approach to your needs.
Simplifying palletizing automation
Our goal at Universal Robots is to make it as straight forward as possible for companies of all shapes and sizes to implement automation solutions that not only add commercial value but help make dangerous and repetitive jobs a thing of the past. For palletizing solutions, cobots offer a way to boost your efficiency and make better use of your human workforce. That’s why making sure you are using the cobot’s flexibility in a way that is best suited to your operations is so important – it helps you get the best results out of your investment. And of course, we are always on hand to help you achieve that.