The uses of robotics within the industry: Pick&Place

What is the Pick&Place? 

Pick&Place refers to the action of a robot to pick up, move and place an object.

As this task is very simple, it can be found in many areas. From personal assistance to industry and research centers, the robotic Pick&Place is more and more present to relieve man from repetitive tasks.

An industrial example

It is no secret that the majority of companies using robots are industrialists. The automotive, food processing or cosmetics industries are sectors where items move a lot between workstations. 

As an example, a robot can pick up up to 30,000 batches of deodorants per day and put them in a box according to a pre-established configuration.

Improvements in Pick&Place ?

Advances in robotics are opening up new horizons for these manufacturers and allowing them to concentrate their operators on high value-added missions.

For example, vision systems allow robots to quickly visualize their environment. Cameras film the location of the various objects to be picked up and of the drop zones, then a software program processes this information to give the robot the action order. This vision also greatly facilitates quality control, for example by checking the position of a label on a product.

On the gripper side, the field of possibilities is very wide thanks to the different technologies available on the market. Grippers, flexible grippers, suction foams, electromagnets, grippers are becoming more and more versatile and can be used to pick up very different products, from glue tubes to electronic components.

Specific robots

Depending on the needs of companies, different robots are available for the Pick&Place. First of all, there are the traditional industrial robots, often protected inside a wire mesh enclosure. These handle the ultra-fast pick&place. Sometimes more than 200 strokes/min with delta robots.

However, as these robots are very specific to a position, they are not very flexible and do not adapt to new cases of use. A robotics design office is necessary to re-study the case and propose a new solution, which represents a significant financial cost and significant lead times.

For production lines with moderate speeds there are collaborative robots. They can work in parallel with operators without any particular protection and help them to manage the flow. They offer a flexibility that allows them to be easily adapted to several levels of the production line. In addition, their low investment cost appeals to many manufacturers: it takes between €120,000 and €150,000 for the complete integration of a cobot at a Pick&Place station.

However, it's not all roses! These cobots do not provide an interesting return on investment for companies because the maximum rates are around 15 strokes/min. In addition, they often end up sleeping at the back of the warehouses due to a change in production needs and lack of flexibility. Indeed, a poor integration of cobot can cost a company up to 70 000 € per operation and per year.

Industrial robot or cobot, you don’t need to choose.

For industrial companies wishing to reconcile speed and flexibility, Niryo offers a turnkey solution: a cobotic island pre-trained in pick&place.

The Niryo Pick&Place island is equipped with additional safety sensors and a compact protective structure, allowing higher throughput rates than a traditional cobot.

Thanks to its standard structure and pre-programmed interface, it can be (re)integrated quickly and cost-effectively into packaging lines. (Integration time and financial investment divided by 2 compared to a traditional integration). Thus, if production needs change, such as the type of reference, the island can be redeployed in a few days.

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