Spotlight on ... robotics
Here are some recent product announcements that have crossed our editors' desks.
Autonomous pallet stacker: AutoGuide Mobile Robots has expanded its Max N10 modular mobile robot line with the launch of the Max N10 pallet stacker. (See photo above.) The stacker, which features autonomous pallet finding and infrastructure-free navigation, is an extension of the company's base mobile robot platform configured with a newly designed attachment to enable pallet and rack handling.
The Max N10 pallet stacker serves as an automated counterbalanced lift truck that can pick and place pallets or racks from floor level, trailer decks, conveyors, and racks up to five feet high. Standard payload capacity is 1,770 pounds; a high-capacity version is available. (AutoGuide Mobile Robots)
Item-picking cobot: Vanderlande, a supplier of process automation solutions for warehouses, has developed Smart Item Robotics (SIR) technology to enhance single-item picking in e-commerce fulfillment operations. The SIR system utilizes a collaborative robot—or "cobot"— that is able to work harmoniously in the same area as a human operator and has the ability to pick and place individual items, the company says.
SIR's applications include bin-to-bin picking, where the robot picks single products from a source bin and gently stacks them into the required order carton or bin, and bin-to-belt picking, in which the robot picks single items from a source bin before placing them on a belt. This can then feed a pocket sorter, packing machine, or other type of sorter.
The SIR solution can handle various products without SKU (stock-keeping unit) teaching. In addition, its "intelligent stacking" capability enables the efficient positioning of goods, while ensuring products are handled smoothly and securely. (Vanderlande)
Cube-mounted AS/RS: Robot technology company AutoStore has introduced its new Black Line cube-based automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). The Black Line is an updated version of AutoStore's 23-year-old Red Line cube-based AS/RS, but for high-throughput operations. A cube-based AS/RS consists of a high-density storage system that is basically a cube-shaped metal grid and holds bins. Robot modules travel on top of that grid and pick bins from it.
The Black Line can pick up to 650 bins per hour in comparison with the Red Line, which has a maximum throughput of 350 bins per hour. The Black Line robots are slimmer and pick up the bins within the central cavity of the robot, instead of carrying them on top. This allows more room for the robots to pass one another. The robots are also lighter and faster than those used on the Red Line and are powered by BattPack lithium-ion batteries, which reduce the time needed for recharging.
AutoStore is also offering the new RelayPort workstation, where the operator picks from the bins delivered by the robots. The new system uses tabs for buffering, enabling the robots to queue up a line of bins, which allows for higher picking speeds. Companies will typically have five to 15 of these ports for picking. (AutoStore)
Robotic sorting solution: Warehousing and logistics solutions provider Geek+ Robotics has introduced the MiniSort, a smart and flexible robotic sorting solution. The MiniSort solution, which uses the Geek+ S20 line of robots as sorting and transportation devices, can cut labor costs and boost efficiency in package-sorting applications, the company says.
The S20 series of robots used by MiniSort are adaptable when it comes to sorting products of different sizes and weights, and are capable of carrying packages. After palletization, Geek+ transport robots or unmanned forklifts can be used to deliver pallets to their corresponding buffer storage or truck areas, further reducing labor costs.
The robots use visual-inertial navigation and high-precision laser radar for obstacle avoidance to ensure workplace security; are capable of handling various product ranges and able to deliver packages weighing up to 44 pounds (20 kilograms); and support various features, including automatic matching with conveyor belts, product fall detection, and dynamic delivery. The system is capable of supporting intelligent gathering and deployment of several hundred robots, while at the same time ensuring uninterrupted 24-hour operation of the robotic system, the company says. (Geek+ Robotics)
Singulation solution: Automated material handling solutions provider MHS has introduced a robotic singulation solution that's designed to address growing e-commerce order volumes and labor challenges facing distribution centers. The solution combines advanced robotic technologies to pick individual items from bulk flow to feed downstream processes.
Suitable for parcel-processing operations handling large quantities of smaller-sized packages, the robot uses vision software and algorithms to pick individual items from bulk flow and then properly orient and place them in a single-file stream for downstream sortation processes. The solution uses a vacuum-based end effector to reliably handle packaging types commonly found in e-commerce and parcel-processing environments, from corrugate cases to polybags. (MHS)
Robotics solutions: enVista, a global software solutions and consulting services firm, has launched a Robotics Practice to help companies overcome critical labor shortages in distribution and manufacturing as well as boost efficiency in their warehouse operations. The company says its engineers will develop custom solutions for clients in its robotics lab and testing facility in Chicago.
The firm's robotics solutions include proof-of-concept testing, operational and automation assessments, modeling and analytics, tailored engineering solutions, and a full robotics innovation and testing facility with industry-leading Fanuc robots.
EnVista's automation and robotics services team is composed of system-agnostic consultants as well as mechanical, electrical, and software engineers that focus on finding the optimal solution for a warehouse or distribution center's labor productivity and automation needs. (enVista)
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