Robotic picking arms are quickly becoming essential equipment for sorting and packing inventory, helping overwhelmed workers move boxes and bags between conveyors and totes. But that job is becoming harder as retailers incorporate more biodegradable and recyclable materials into their packaging, creating thinner and flimsier bags. That’s a problem for robotic devices that use suction cups for gripping because the thinner the bags, the more easily they can be sucked into and damaged by the suction cup’s grip.
Now, a Swedish automation specialist says it has the answer to that. Taby, Sweden-based Piab Vakuum GmbH says it has developed a new bag-handling suction cup specifically for use with flimsy and oversized bags. Produced as a one-piece suction cup with two bellows, the new BGX suction cup is designed to provide outstanding sealing capability even at low vacuum levels, according to the company.
Piab says the new suction cups, which are made from “blue silicone” material that’s FDA- and EU-approved for direct contact with food, are suitable for applications in the e-commerce, fast-moving consumer goods, fashion, and secondary food picking sectors. For instance, robotic arms outfitted with the BGX cup can now pick bags made of thin plastic film—such as those used for salad leaves and fresh herbs—or the aluminum foil bags used for chips and other snacks, the company says.