By Ashley Belliveau
Picking and placing parts or assemblies is often a simple, repetitive, and monotonous task in most industrial manufacturing processes. Especially when it comes to moving large, small, or hard-to-handle parts, automating this function on the factory line with high-speed pick and place robots can provide many benefits to manufacturers.
In some of today’s sophisticated automated machinery, the experts at Steven Douglas Corp. (SDC) have integrated robotic pick and place systems in many different applications. Below, we briefly explain some of the capabilities and uses of pick and place robots in manufacturing.
How Robotic Pick and Place Robots Work
Automated pick and place robots are typically mounted on a stand to allow the robots to reach the entire work envelope. Parts or assemblies will enter the robotic work envelope, often on a conveyor belt or presented in a bin. Robotic vision inspection technology will enable the robot to accurately identify the part, based on characteristics like shape, size, color, orientation, or location. From there, custom end-of-arm tooling will enable the robot to grab and move the object from one place to the desired position or location.
Robotic Pick and Place Applications
With a variety of end-of-arm tooling options available, pick and place robots can be customized to fit specific production requirements and needs. Here are some ways that pick and place robots are commonly used in manufacturing processes:
- SDC Flex Feeding: Our SDC Flex Feeding system takes components from bulk, emptied onto a conveyor and presents them to a vision-guided robotic pick-and-place system. Our robots are programmed to work “smart” and maximize effectiveness, and any part that is not picked by the robot is recirculated and re-presented to the robots.
- Part sorting: Using vision inspection technology, pick and place robots can sort and select parts based on characteristics like shape, size, color, location, or barcode, and place the part in the desired location and/or position it to the correct orientation.
- Bin picking: Pick and place robots can select parts presented from a bin, even when parts are randomly mixed together, and then place the part in the correct orientation in the designated location.
- Assembly: Pick and place robots are often used in assembly applications, where they pick incoming components and place, join, insert, or fix it with another part.
- Packing: Within packing processes, a few common applications for pick and place robots include grabbing a part and packing it into a packaging container or loading and stacking products on pallets.
- Inspection: As a vision system monitors parts for accuracy, a pick and place robot can be programmed to pick and remove defective parts before it reaches the next stage of production.
Advantages of Robotic Pick and Place
Integrating pick and place robots enables companies to gain a competitive edge while maximizing productivity. One of the main advantages of robotic pick and place is that it creates a highly repeatable process to ensure greater accuracy. This level of consistency can also help eliminate or reduce bottlenecks to improve efficiency, speed, and time-to-market.
To further improve time-to-market, robotic pick and place systems can be programmed to perform at faster speeds than what manual processes allow. Depending on your production needs, many pick and place robots can be programmed to reach a throughput of up to 200 products per minute.
Additionally, pick and place robots help relieve human operators of repetitive tasks. This not only allows them to focus on more complex work but also reduces the risk of repetitive strain injury that can threaten productivity and your bottom line.
Experts in Robotic Pick and Place Integration
At SDC, we evaluate every new project and integrate the best robotic technology for the application. As robotic integrators for FANUC, Epson, Yaskawa/Motoman, and many more, we have the extensive experience and training to successfully recommend, implement, and program the optimal pick and place robot for your part and application. Contact SDC today to discuss your upcoming automation project. In the meantime, check out some of our past projects.