By Jake Reband, Sr. Account Executive at enVista
Optimization is vital within the distribution center, and there are a variety of options to create greater throughput and efficiency. One area that is often overlooked is the final process in the warehouse before orders are relinquished, which is palletization. We all know we need to automate the palletization process utilizing robots, but few understand why. I have been working with clients on robotic palletization projects for nearly 25 years, and automation was around long before that. We’re all told strategizing on palletization is something that will benefit all involved, but how?
Industrial robots frequently take over tasks that would otherwise be dangerous or strenuous for people to perform. Repetitive operator motion combined with heavy loads can often lead to avoidable workplace injuries. Safety devices and principles put in place with these robotic palletization systems are proven to reduce or remove the need for workers’ exposure to these often-risky processes.
End-of-arm tooling included with many robotic palletization systems are customized to each specific application. This allows for picking multiple boxes at a time, maximizing system throughput. These designs are also flexible in adapting to future products or pallet patterns.
Reduced Direct Labor Costs
Labor savings from automating the palletizing process goes beyond the removal of the operator from the box-handling process. With a centralized robotic palletization system, multiple cells are building a variety of completed loads at the same time. This can be managed by fewer operators. Further savings can be found by running systems for multiple shifts.
Maximum Productivity and Throughput
These systems are designed to specific tasks repeatedly, with no breaks. Robots can run at maximum productivity around the clock, day after day. These systems move faster than human operation.
Improved Workspace Utilization
Robots are not subject to the same ergonomic and equipment restrictions needed by human operators. Because of this, systems can be designed to be space-saving. A robotic system can be installed over a conveyor, where an operator would require additional space around the conveyor for safely and efficiently performing the same task.
Bottom line – the proper and thoughtful automating of processes such as palletization increases productivity, operator safety and labor costs (to mention a few benefits).