With the rising demand for fast order fulfillment and optimal supply chain processes, logistics companies find themselves under growing pressure to come up with the most efficient ways to respond to the challenging requirements and expectations. Automation and integration of robots into logistic processes is definitely the way to go as it helps boost productivity, save time and costs, eliminate the risk of injuries and health detriment, and unburden employees of monotonous tasks to instead use their potential in areas that require creativity, critical thinking and decision-making.
There is a very specific yet crucial aspect of logistic processes that can achieve higher levels of productivity with the implementation of smart automation solutions - the unloading of pallets called depalletization.
Depalletization driven by robotic intelligence
AI-powered depalletization describes robotic unloading of pallets laden with boxes using artificial intelligence. It presents a higher level and a more sophisticated solution than the classic depalletization on the one hand and delayerization on the other, in the case of which the robot picks the whole pallet laden with uniformly arranged boxes that need to be of the same height.
The best AI-powered depalletization systems make the process of unloading pallets significantly faster, more effective, safer and ultimately also cost-efficient.
The secret recipe to superior performance
The success of smart depalletization solutions is dependent on a powerful 3D machine vision and advanced AI algorithms. These algorithms need to be trained on a large database of boxes and be able to constantly learn and recognize new types of boxes so that they can easily handle different sizes, various materials, textures, colors and patterns, or irregular shapes caused by damage, for instance. The universality of such solutions also resides in the fact that the boxes do not need to be stacked in nicely ordered patterns, can even be tilted at an angle or tightly packed with leaving hardly any visible gap that separates them, and the robot is still able to pick them.
Effective depalletization in numbers
One of the companies that shape this “revolution” in logistics is Photoneo. The company equips robots with its in-house developed 3D vision deployed also in its depalletization solution. The scanner first makes a scan of an entire pallet loaded with boxes. This scan is then transferred to a 3D texture data set and processed by AI algorithms that were tested for more than 5000 types of boxes. The algorithms immediately recognize and localize each box and the system sends a command to the robot to perform the picking action using a special, universal gripper. This is able to achieve a gripping precision of +-3 mm. Photoneo depalletizer works out of the box, without necessitating any training of the system, being able to unload 1000 boxes in one hour with 99.7 % pick rate accuracy.
Yet more reasons to automate
The benefits of implementing an automated depalletization solution are long-term and yet visible from day one. Besides advantages related to increased productivity and cost savings, there is another important aspect - and that is safety. Manual operation involves the manipulation of heavy boxes that may be stacked a few meters above the ground. This often leads to injuries, especially of the lower back. Photoneo special gripper can pick boxes of up to 50 kg. The robot can work non-stop, without ever getting tired or needing human intervention.
The competition is strong, market demands are extremely high and logistics companies that want to keep up have no other option than to deploy solutions that will help them streamline their processes. The path to success leads through automation, i.e. integration of vision guided, intelligent robots. The means are all at hand - now is the right time to automate.