Pick and Place Robot | Its 3+ Important Applications and Benefits

Pick and Place Robot

The subject of discussion: Pick and Place robot and its extraordinary conventionality

 What is a Pick and Place Robot?

Pick and Place Robots replace human workers in the manufacturing industry for repetitive jobs. Their function usually involves picking up a particular object from a defined position and place them at another defined coordinate.

One of the most common examples can be the repetitive task of packing the same products in the same manner in a packaging factory. Upon handing over such jobs to these robots, humans are freed up to focus on more complex work. Hence pick and place robots fall under the category of industrial robots that can be automated and programmed to move on three or more axes.

The importance of pick and place robots can be understood by realizing how big the manufacturing industry is. As per the report generated by Statista, industrial robots’ sales volume has tripled over the past decade, thereby touching a figure of nearly 4,00,000 units in 2018. Roughly 2,000 robot installments can replace 10,000 works in the industry.

A typical Pick and Place Robot configuration
Image Credit: Phenoptix, Blueblack preview featuredCC BY-SA 3.0

How do they work?

The definition of a pick and place robot itself portrays the functioning it. They pick up the desired item from an identified location and place them at another desired coordinate. The course of action is pre-programmed in the robot, and the technology used for processing is called Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Robotic Process Automation

These robots are usually mounted on a stand. The size of the stand depends on how heavy or light the payload is. The more gigantic the robot, the more significant is the stand and vice-versa. The stand is positioned strategically for the robot to reach the required reach for the task allotted to it.

As mentioned earlier, these robots are used to free up human labor by replacing it in repetitive tasks of picking up a particular object from a defined location and placing it in another pre-programmed coordinate.

For example, if there are a pick and place robot cell in the fresh food industry, then the robotic cell is typically attached to the top part of the frame in the conveyor process line, as shown in the picture below. The inclusion of a vision system is likely in the system that enables the robot to visualize the object’s exact location to grasp, lift, carry, and drop at the end of the conveyor line. This process ensures accuracy in the course by reducing the risk of damage and failure to a possible minimum.

What are the types and applications of a pick and place robot?

Types of Pick and Place Robot

Different categories of product and design layouts decide the configuration of the robotic pick and place system. Since it is a handling system with automatic features and capabilities, this capable to run without an input from the operator to pick and place product or part from one process into another or from a process into packaging or any other application where items need to be delocalized from an absolute coordinate to another. A pick and place the robotic system will replace human labor for the tasks mentioned above and reduce repetitive strain injury and worker fatigue, thereby increasing productivity and efficiency.

The different types of pick and robot robots are discussed below.

Robotic Arm: This is one of the important categories of “pick and place robot”, which stereotypically come in the form of a 5-axis robot that is standardized for pick and places applications in-plane, or the 6-axis type for more intricate applications where the product is not aligned with the horizontal plane and encompass a twist.

Cartesian: This is another prevalent type of pick and place robot that used to be cheaper at some point in time but is not very commonly installed these days other than in injection molding machines.

Delta: These pick and place robots are mounted directly above the conveyor belt and are usually utilized for high-speed pick and place uses.

Fast Pick: Fast pick and place robots are also other options for high-speed applications, having cycle times equal to or even more than 150 cycles per minute.

Collaborative: These have become very popular in recent years of industrial applications, although they have limited capabilities for being mostly smaller and slower robots that find it difficult to handle complex functionality.

A extensive range of expert automation engineers are in need to install and commission robotic systems, together with robot and control expert in addition to mechanical engineers and CAD design engineers. A robotic pick and place system would usually include a mounting platform, a screen control system, interlocks for safeguarding, a bespoke end-effector, and a primary conveyor.

Having a custom-fit designed pick and place system, it is also possible to have the design modified that suit our requirements. Variation can comprise layout, guarding, no of products that robot is capable to grip up, stacking configuration, and many additional features too.

The pick and place robots are also classified based on their sizes, which directly influence their application range. 

Small Robotic Pick and Place System: Small pick and place robotic system is stereotypically utilized for small-sized product and also when the distance that its requirements to interchange between two fixed coordinates is small. Some examples can include chocolate packaging in boxes or placing electronic components on a circuit board and orientation of other small parts.

Medium Robotic Pick and Place System: Medium pick and place robotic systems are employed where the product is bigger than the earlier case and requires to be lifted over a stretched distance that is a union of several smaller pick and place utilization assembled with. 

Large Robotic Pick and Place System: Large pick and place robots are usually used in the heavy engineering industry, where products can weigh up to as much as 1,000 kgs. Few applications of bulky pick and place robots are employed in moving the of cars in the production line and delocalizing heavy sheets of glass and other raw materials etc.

Applications of Pick and Place Robot

There are a variety of applications that pick and place robots are used in the manufacturing industry. The variety in the applications depends on the differentiable capabilities of the robot. For example, these robots can pick up something as small as a doughnut from the designated counter to large-scale applications involving robotic palletizing weights in tonnes.

Assembly: During an assembly process, these robots can pick up a product or any part of it from one conveyor belt and then place it onto another. This is an everyday use in the genre of small electronic goods and fresh produce lines. The robot there must work with moving products from one production line to another.

Packaging: This is not very different from the assembly process as it requires the pick and place robot to pack an item in allotted containers instead of just picking it from the belt and delocalize it.

Selective Picking: Robots in this application usually exhibit vision sensors that help them identify selected objects out of the clutter and pick them up from a conveyor belt or production line that match the pre-programmed description. The technology that goes into this is called Machine Vision, which determines the various ways we can utilize the robot to identify a product that doesn’t match the production line’s standards.

Inspection: As talked about earlier, the inclusion of a vision system in the pick and place robot allows it to monitor the products and whatever that is being sent on the conveyor system, which reduces a great deal of error throughout the entire process. It helps spot the defective product, which is then sorted out of refined products’ batch by another pick and place robot designated for the job.

Automation of Foundry

Advantages of Pick and Place Robot

There are a variety of things that a company can benefit from by installing pick and place robots in their factory. It starts from speeding up the manufacturing line process to reducing operational costs of the business, a few of which are briefly discussed below.

When we talk about business, we cannot merely stick to what is necessary. That will completely eliminate the pick and place robots or any automation, for that matter, from the list of necessities. We must talk about how beneficial it will be for the company to include them in their list of machines. This depends on the kind of capabilities that every one of these machines possesses, which varies extensively.

Here are a few specimens of how pick and place robots can advantage a commercial appliance industries to assist them enhance their customer service and improve the overall efficiency.

Speed

The usage of a pick and place robot can extensively increase the speed of the processes involved in various operations. This saves a lot of time for the businesses by carrying the repetitive tasks at a consistent rate because of the extent of synchronization it brings into the process.

Robotics Online‘s website showcases the pick and places robotic systems equipped with vision-based guidance systems and can identify 100 products per second.

Consistency and Accuracy

Being consistent and accurate at what they do is one of the most reliable characteristics of a robot. This is because there is hardly any chance of human error at all. Robots are programmed to do specific tasks, and they do not get tired like human beings and thus minimize chances of any human-like error to zero unless there is some malfunctioning of the system itself.

Return on Investment

Integrating robots into an existing system is one of the significant benefits to businesses. Given some time to recover the cost of investment, businesses can witness extensive return on investment because of the increase in productivity rate with the least amount of error possible. Initial commitments seem scary, but it is only a matter of time that the profits become visible.

Productivity Boost

Integration of pick and place robots in the right direction can boost the business’s productivity in 2 ways- firstly, it speeds up the process compared to when human laborers did the same. Secondly, the freed-up human labor can now get involved in more complicated jobs to finish them quicker.

How to choose the right model of Pick and Place Robot?

Ten parameters help us choose the right model of pick and place robot for our business.

Application- The job that the robot will be assigned to do.

Payload- The weight of the parts or products that the robot will be required to lift.

Degree of Freedom- The extent of the area that becomes the working space of the robot determines the number of axes it should have.

Operating Range- The amount of distance the robot needs to cover in its maximum reach.

Positioning Accuracy- The ability of the robot to complete the repetitive task every time that it reaches the desired location.

Speed- Cycle time that the task needs to complete.

Body Weight- Determines the configuration of the mounting surface for the robot.

Brake- Determines the number of axes of the robot that will have a braking system.

Moment of Inertia- Determines the amount of torque applicable on different axes.

Protection Level- Determines the industry that will use the robot because different environments have different risk factors.

How much does a Pick and Place Robot cost?

TO get an idea of this section, we can take the example of the average pricing of a pick and place industrial robot with a payload capacity of 5 kg and a maximum reach of 740 mm. Now different brands have different pricing list for the same.

The winner, in this case, is Fanuc LR Mate 200iA that costs about 25k USD.

For the previous article, click here.

About Esha Chakraborty

I have a background in Aerospace Engineering, currently working towards the application of Robotics in the Defense and the Space Science Industry. I am a continuous learner and my passion for creative arts keeps me inclined towards designing novel engineering concepts.
With robots substituting almost all human actions in the future, I like to bring to my readers the foundational aspects of the subject in an easy yet informative manner. I also like to keep updated with the advancements in the aerospace industry simultaneously.

Connect with me with LinkedIn - http://linkedin.com/in/eshachakraborty93

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