Robots On the Rise in Packaging Industry?
According to a report from PMMI, the use of robots in manufacturing locations (of those packagers surveyed) has grown from about 25% to 75% since 2008. These numbers seem to suggest a rather large increase in the use of robots, a trend that is probably not likely to head the other direction any time soon. Those surveyed cited reduced labor, operator safety, product quality, efficiency and flexibility as a few of the reasons for the move.
While it may be some time before robots replace every aspect of a packaging line, there are several areas where using such equipment seems to meet the needs of many different packagers, including, but not limited to, those involved in packaging beverages and other liquids. For example, robotics can be ideal for palletizing product at the end of a packaging line, or even orienting packages and products at any point on a line. As technology improves, there is no reason to believe robotic machinery will not become an efficient and consistent option for other packaging line operations as well.
At Liquid Packaging Solutions, one of the main services offered in addition to the manufacture of power conveyors, rinsing machinery, filling machines, capping equipment and other custom packaging machines, is our integration service. When integrating a complete packaging line - that is, combining the packaging equipment that we ourselves manufacture with machinery from other equipment manufacturers to form a complete solution for our customers - there are occasions when robotics will be added to the line. In the past, it would be a fair statement to say that robotic type equipment was rarely used on the lines integrated by LPS, but with better technology and efficiency, we expect to see a change in the frequency in the future.
Rather than simply being used as palletizers, pick and place systems and other robotic type machines may be used as a component on capping, to move fragile products or packages or orient correctly for labeling or other packaging processes. For instance, where unique caps or oddly shaped closures will not travel smoothly through a cap delivery system, a robotic arm may be used to pick a cap and place it onto the bottle for the sealing process. Robots can even be used to transfer packages or containers in some instances where a power conveyor system may not run continuously, or to reject bad products or packages from a power conveyor. The best process for any given packaging project are always changing with the technology, and it appears that robots may hold a significant place in that technology in the near future.
For more information on the packaging machinery manufactured by LPS or our integration services, feel free to contact the Packaging Specialists at LPS toll free at 1-888-393-3693.
For more information on robots in packaging, see Anne Marie Mohan's article Robots Rise to Packaging Challenges in Packaging World.