Packaging robots have been designed to replace human labor, albeit with superhuman strength, agility, and speed. The range of movement, strength, and speed allow these machines to lift entire pallets onto trucks or pick up individual muffins hot out of the oven.
These robots were on display at PackExpo in Las Vegas last month. The entire tradeshow floor was alive with robotic movement. The robots were amazingly agile, surprisingly strong, and unexpectedly quiet.
This is the new manufacturing workforce. These machines are so efficient, they have reduced the importance of cheap labor as a factor in whether a plant is built in China or Ohio. While they reduce the manual workforce, they come with a small army of engineers. For the new engineer they are especially attractive, since running these robots can be done through simulation -- much like playing a video game.
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Here’s the claw end of a robot arm. ABB’s FlexGripper can be adjusted to pick up a wide range of items, large or small. (Source: ABB)
When it was in Chicago last year (Pack Expo rotates between Chicago and Las Vegas), the noticeable aspect of the show was the robotics. Walking the floor, it would be easy to think you're at a robotics show.
"Packaging robots have been designed to replace human labor, albeit with superhuman strength, agility, and speed. The range of movement, strength, and speed allow these machines to lift entire pallets onto trucks or pick up individual muffins hot out of the oven."
Rob, thanks for the update. Packing holds a major profile in logistics and shipment domain. The security of the shipped items depends up on packing and hence companies are spending more time and money for strong packing. I think robots can do the same work without much effort and time.
"It was quite a sight to see a whole landscape of packaging robots at PackExpo. The robots have taken over this industry."
Rob, now in most of the companies they have a separate engineering division by name 'packing engineering '. The main aim/goal of such units are minimizing the volume packing and increasing the saftey. I am not sure how this will help for the robotics era.
Robotics may be the future, but to get there the country needs engineers. Those engineers need to learn the basics like dynamics, mechanics of materials. There's no magical way to jump over those. Lack of understanding how a robotic arm can handle a payload's inertia can lead to disaster. Basic engineering has to come first before making the robot move.
Very nice showcase of packaging robotics technology. If these robots are installed and operated safely, they can also help reduce injuries in the workplace (by eliminating the need for a human to perform repetitive lifting tasks). These added benefits are also attractive to decision makers in management when evaluating these types of investments.