Mobile robotic palletizing continues to be a trend at this year’s PACK EXPO International. While these units are so small in size that they can be easy to miss in the aisles, they have the potential to provide big benefits. For brands coming to the show in search of flexible end-of-line solutions in tight spaces, these mobile units make economic sense.
“With labor constraints now, the days of paying someone $8 an hour to stack boxes are over, so the need for palletizing is there,” says Brian Stock, president of SourceLink Solutions. “But many of our customers in food manufacturing, contract packaging and others have older facilities with little space.”
Enter SourceLink’s new SL25 mobile palletizer, on display at SourceLink’s booth N-5460. This industrial mobile palletizer combines the payload capability of a standard, fixed robotic palletizing cell with the cost savings of a mobile platform – all in a highly compact unit.
The SL Series is truly mobile, with a frame design that allows it to be easily transported throughout the facility. After its mobile frame doors are folded in and locked into place, the entire unit can be moved by a single operator with just a pallet jack through an opening as narrow as 4 ft. After reopening the panels and powering up at another station, the SL Series can be palletizing new loads in another palletizing section of the plant in as little as 10 minutes.
Stock says SourceLink’s quick installation of the SL Series gets it up and running fast, further saving costs and time for end users.
“We can roll this into a customer’s plant and be stacking boxes in 30 minutes, without having to send a team of installers out who spend a week anchoring equipment into concrete, building safety fencing and running a bunch of wires.”
The floor-level SL series offers two, 6-axis models that can build loads at rates of up to 20 cases/min – depending on the case size and pallet pattern – and at 80-in. high. In addition to the displayed SL25 industrial robot, which lifts payloads of up to 25kg, the SL20 collaborative robot handles maximum payloads of 20kg.
Keeping workers safe
Stock showed us several features on the industrial robot build that were designed to keep workers safe around its open format palletizing cell. The SL25’s safety guard has two area scanners – one serving as a light curtain and another scanner that eliminates jagged stops via a slow, controlled stop akin to that of a collaborative robot should a worker break the barrier. Inside the cell, three sensors per side use a radar-based inspect system that ignores inert objects (cases) while preventing any humans who enter the zone from inadvertently starting the robot.
The SL Series comes standard with a 24V zone infeed conveyor, with an optional extended case infeed conveyor and case turning devices available. SourceLink can also set up the unit with an optional dual infeed conveyor to allow for two SKUs to be palletized at a time. SourceLink offers other options on the SL Series, including special end-of-arm tooling and custom programming for slip sheet application.
The SL Series is highly versatile and can be used across any market with a palletizing need, ranging from palletizing cases with bags of chips or heavy aluminum cans o palletizing pails of chemicals, Stock says.