In a trend toward food processors designating less space for their palletizing operations, EnSight Solutions has developed a fenceless robotic palletizer that gets the job done in a footprint of just 12 x 5 ft. The system combines Sick safety sensors with a Stäubli collaborative robot (cobot) to eliminate the need for fencing.
“With our area scanners, as the robot moves, you have a warning area where the light will turn yellow. It’ll move the robot very slowly,” explains Heath Clifton, director of automation and controls for EnSight Solutions. “As you walk in closer, you’ll get a red area, which is a safety stop for the robot. As you move back out of the area, it’ll slowly start speeding up. And then once you get into the green area, it’ll move back to its full speed.”
Unlike standard robots, the payloads that cobots can handle tend to be smaller. The Staübli cobot, however, enables larger payloads. “The thing that differentiates our cobot palletizer from others is it can lift up to 75 lb,” Clifton says. “If we’re doing a single pick, we can pick up to 18 boxes a minute. But with a 75 lb weight limit, we can pick up multiple boxes at a time to hit a higher rate.”
Stäubli also has cobot options with hygiene standards suitable for food processing areas. “One of the great options about our palletizer is that it’s a full stainless-steel design,” Clifton says. “We’re using a Stäubli robot, so it’s a full washdown robot as well. It’s a great application for the food industry. You can put it in a full washdown room if you’re palletizing in there, or a secondary pack application that’s wipe-down.”