The implementation of robots and cobots in all types of industries, including the food industry, is becoming more popular. They are suitable for many processes, including end-of-line processes such as palletizing. Palletizing is a perfect process for a robot or a cobot; it includes monotonous and repetitive actions, making it a relatively easy task to automate. However, there is an important question to consider; do you need a robot or a cobot palletizer? At first glance, they seem very similar. They both use a robotic arm with a gripper to stack boxes in a particular stacking pattern on a pallet, they can both operate 24/7 and increase productivity and efficiency. There are many differences between the two, nevertheless.
A cobot is a type of robot arm designed to cooperate with and work alongside people. Cobots are built to assist and create a safer and healthier workplace. They have many built-in safety sensors so there is no need for extra safety measures such as fencing. To ensure safe cooperation with employees, a cobot does have limited power and speed. It can typically lift products up to 10-12 kg.
If you look at cobot palletizers, employees can easily work around the cobot, take away full pallets , place empty pallets, all while the cobot palletizer continues its operation. This is a huge advantage if you rely on continuous operation. In addition, cobot palletizers are highly flexible and suitable for end-of-line processes with a high variety in products, They can be installed quickly and can easily be reconfigured to adjust to different products and stacking patterns. Another advantage is that it can easily be fitted into existing production lines, as it is a very compact system with a small footprint.
Robot palletizers, on the other hand, are designed to handle high speeds and heavy products. They use an industrial robot arm and are often used in heavy manufacturing, such as the automotive industry. They require a lot of safety measures and are often placed within large cages as employees need to stay out of their workspace. If employees need to come near the robot, the robot palletizer has to stop its entire operation to guarantee the safety of an employee. Furthermore, robot palletizers are usually very large installations with a large footprint, and it is very difficult to reconfigure them to different tasks. They are suitable for high volume and high-speed production executing a very specific task, but not necessarily for end-of-line processes with a lot of variety in products.
There is no final answer as to whether a cobot or robot palletizer is more suitable. It all depends on specifications such as speed, product weight and product variety. Hence, it is important to first build your specifications before you can decide on whether you need a robot or a cobot palletizer. Would you like to know more about the benefits of a cobot palletizer. Take a look at our Smart Palletizer.