I’ve worked with robotics for so many years (40?) that I must use mind tricks to keep me from the rut of thinking there can’t be anything new. Yes, the applications are the same. We did palletize and depalletize in 1984. But applications become more complex. Information and data handling requirements become more stringent. From the outside it all appears the same—but it’s different.

Here is a new solution from ABB robotics:

Solution targets a variety of logistical operations, replacing heavy manual lifting and significantly improving efficiency 

• Machine vision software masters highly complex depalletizing 

tasks quickly and efficiently, boosting productivity and reducing costs  

• ABB’s RobotStudio digital twin software allows customers to 

build tailored applications to meet their operational requirements 

• Easy to integrate with ABB Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR)

ABB has launched the ‘ABB Robotic Depalletizer’, a solution for handling complex depalletizing tasks in the logistics, e-commerce, healthcare, and consumer packaged goods industries. Using machine vision software, ABB’s new solution can quickly assess a wide variety of box types, enabling customers to efficiently process assorted loads with very little engineering effort and short set-up time.

“Changes in consumer behavior are leading to a rise in new sales channels such as omni-channel, direct to consumer (D2C) and e-commerce. These, in turn, are driving the need for more flexible and efficient order fulfilment and distribution infrastructures,” says Marc Segura, ABB’s Robotics Division President. “With the ability to depalletize boxes stacked in a variety of configurations from single and mixed pallets, ABB´s Robotic Depalletizer helps to meet this need, allowing faster and more accurate handling of a wide range of goods ready for the next stage in the distribution process.”

Not only are depalletizing tasks growing more complex as the composition and configuration of pallets becomes more varied, but these previously manual sorting jobs are typically characterized by high staff turnover and increased recruitment costs. ‘ABB´s Robotic Depalletizer’ solves these problems by using advanced machine vision and machine learning algorithms to quickly and efficiently process pallets of up to 2.8m high, the only solution currently capable of operating at these heights. 

ABB’s Robotic Depalletizer software uses the information gathered by the vision sensor to provide the robot with a suitable grasping point for each box. The robot then picks up the box – weighing up to 30 kg – and places it on either another pallet or an outfeed conveyor. The speed and accuracy of the system enables it to work at a peak rate of up to 650 cycles per hour, 24 hours a day.

The vision sensor enables the robot to detect specific carton boxes on pallets, allowing reliable depalletizing of several different load types. These include pallets comprised of a single type of box in defined layers; ‘rainbow’ pallets containing a number of different box types; and mixed pallets, which have a wide range of boxes with varying weights, shapes and materials.

The solution can be supplied with a range of four and six axis robots to provide the flexibility required to perform either simple or more complex depalletizing tasks. ABB’s RobotStudio digital twin soft-ware is also available, allowing customers to build bespoke application simulations with their own box dimensions, weights and pallet patterns.

Modular collaborative layouts can be tailored to suit customer needs and incorporate advanced laser and radar scanner and light curtain systems to scan the robot’s surroundings, ensuring the safety of workers. To further enhance flexibility, ‘ABB´s Robotic Depalletizer’ can also be integrated with au-tonomous mobile robots to produce a highly capable and flexible goods handling system for ware-houses and dispatching centers, with set-up times as short as three weeks.

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