What is packaging automation?

Due to the boom in e-commerce in recent times, the number of shipments made around the world has increased exponentially. This has led to the need to optimize the packaging process of the various products as much as possible.

Packaging is usually carried out at the end of the line and consists of organizing and protecting the products for their subsequent storage and shipment. To carry out this process more efficiently and quickly, different technologies are used that allow it to be carried out automatically, without the need for human intervention. The main technology used for these tasks is Collaborative Robotics, which consists of the use of robots to perform tasks normally done manually, in this case, packaging. Additionally, other technologies such as Deep Learning or AGVs are also used to support and complement packaging.

What technologies can we use to automate packaging?

Collaborative robotics applied to Packaging

In recent times the packaging process has been automated through the use of Robots. The type of packaging carried out can be of various types: packaging of certain types of products, storage of groups of products in boxes for transport, assembly of pallets and transport of previously assembled pallets.

For this type of task, it is common to use collaborative robotic arms. In fact, this type of robot is commonly used to handle objects that are picked up by the arm through the use of claws or suction cups. In addition, their collaborative nature allows them to work in the presence of people without any danger, since it has security measures that would cause the system to stop if the case arose.

Computer Vision for automation in packaging

Another technology that can be used together with collaborative robotics is Computer Vision, consisting of the analysis and extraction of data from previously taken images. Therefore, through this technology, the operation of the robot can be supported to carry out various tasks:

  • Detection of the position of the next object to pick up.
  • Location of materials needed for packaging.
  • Detection of gaps to place the objects to be packed.
  • Calculation of remaining space in boxes to place the product.

Making good use of Artificial Vision, whether conventional or together with Machine Learning methods, the packaging of various products can be optimized and facilitated even more, which, otherwise, could pose a complex problem for conventional robotics.

Augmented Reality to automate packaging processes

Augmented Reality consists of the projection of images on real environments, either with a projector or a screen, to provide specific information.

In the case of packaging, this technology is usually used to give indications, with which it is possible to configure or program the packaging of the product. It is also possible to use it to carry out simulations that allow estimating how the packaging process will work.

Automatic Guided Vehicles for packaging automation

AGVs (Automatic Guided Vehicles) are also frequently used for packaging automation. This technology consists of vehicles capable of moving through a determined space, previously mapped, to carry out tasks. For this reason, they are often used at the end of the line to transport bulky packages in the production environment, either to be properly packaged or for storage.

Sometimes they can also be used together with a collaborative robot. The AGV transports the robot to certain points, where it carries out the necessary tasks, one of which may be product packaging.

Advantages of packaging automation

As already mentioned previously, the automation of Packaging through Collaborative Robotics has provided a large number of advantages compared to the old methods used. Some of these advantages are:

  • Increased speed of product packaging. This in turn causes an improvement in general production as there is no manual process that slows down the production rate.
  • It allows to obtain a better quality of the packaging compared to a manual process.
  • Ability to move a weight greater than a person could move, saving even more time and allowing employees to dedicate themselves to less physically demanding tasks.

The use of Robots for Packaging tasks is being used in multiple sectors, from health, food to industrial processes, giving great benefits to these sectors.

Do you need to automate your packaging line? Do you think any of these applications could be adapted to your case? Contact us!

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