Material handling automation provider Intelligrated announced a software platform for robotic-arm palletizing systems that could make it easier for DCs to handle a proliferating number of SKUs and packaging options, the company said Tuesday.
Aimed at warehouses that must handle an ever-wider range of products, the IntelliGen software application allows operations to adjust pallet-load configuration without the need for extra programming or integration, simplifying product changeovers, the company said.
Mason, Ohio-based Intelligrated introduced the new palletizing software as its first product launch since being acquired by Honeywell International Inc. in July.
Intelligrated said it designed the platform to suit applications across industries from food and beverage to warehousing and distribution, thanks to its compatibility with major robotic arm brands and its support for a variety of customized end-of-arm tooling. That flexibility reduces integration time and allows users to handle a variety of packaging types, including corrugated cases, plastic totes, and bags, the company said.
"This is robot agnostic; it works for any brand of robot, based on our PLC [programmable logic control]-based solution with an HMI [human-machine interface] touchscreen as the interface to create patterns and templates. So it's the bridge between the operator and the robot," Doug Stoll, Intelligrated's product manager for palletizing, said in an interview.
In a typical application, Intelligrated would provide the IntelliGen software and end-of-arm tooling such as vacuums, clamps, or fingers, while specialized vendors such as Fanuc or Kuka provided the robotic arm, he said.
Customers often choose a robotic palletizer instead of a conventional automated palletizer for jobs that require low throughput with complex stacking patterns, such as handling cartons that retailers place on store shelves for consumers to browse, Stoll said.
These label-out or aisle-ready loads must be stacked in specific patterns, where the cartons all face a certain direction on the pallet. In contrast, conventional palletizers can generally handle higher rates of throughput for a lower variety of SKUs that can be stacked in any orientation, he said.