Whether you are stacking or unstacking pallets full of heavy boxes at heights above reach for most people, it is a difficult and injury-prone task. Automating depalletizing of incoming products offers an excellent way to increase material handling efficiencies with a fast return on investments.
Depalletizing in Warehouse and Distribution
Operational efficiencies are all about cutting costs and increasing production throughput. In the ongoing struggle to combat supply chain pressures and maintain healthy margins, automation plays a vital role and robotic palletizers and depalletizers are a key component.
As e-commerce is penetrating every aspect of our lives, the rapid growth is pushing warehouse and distribution centers to their limits. Manual labor is hard to find, and frequent turnover requires large investments into training, while ergonomic challenges lead to undue injuries. An important aspect of warehouse automation is the depalletizing of pallets full of incoming products, ready for redistribution to smaller retail outlets or end-customers. Pearson Packaging has long been working with warehouse and distribution centers to optimize their inbound material handling challenges with innovative and space-conscious solutions.
Robotic Depalletizing Solutions
Pearson Packaging Systems specializes in the use of robotics for its depalletization solutions. Robots offer great utilization of small spaces, flexibly handle many different SKUs with simple or no changeovers necessary, and require minimal maintenance with exceptional reliability. Just like our palletizing cells, our depalletizing solutions accommodate many different product types ranging from flexible packaging such as bags and bales to rigid packages like boxes, pails, totes, jugs or drums with end effectors tailored to each solution. Pearson depalletizers easily scale from compact solutions to large multi-robot systems. As a long-term partner, we standardize on integrating FANUC robots into our packing, palletizing and depalletizing solutions but also accommodate individual requests for other robot manufacturers.
Depalletizing Mixed and Rainbow Pallets
Mixed and rainbow pallets have risen in popularity as it provides an effective way to customize shipments to specific inventory needs and match supply with expected demand. However, mixed pallets pose a unique challenge to automation because boxes can vary widely in shape, size, color, reflection and sealing type. In addition, mixed pallets are often stacked without the stability a uniform pallet load offers. To address non-uniform applications such as depalletizing of mixed pallets, Pearson Packaging Systems has partnered with vision software company Plus One Robotics. By integrating Plus One’s AI-Powered Vision System, PickOne, and Remote Human Supervision Tool, Yonder, Pearson’s Depalletizing Cells efficiently pick cases, cartons, trays and bags from mixed SKU pallets, and effectively handle exceptions such as new cases or highly-reflective products.
How Does 3D AI-Powered Depalletizing Work?
1. After the full pallet is presented to the pick station, the PickOne Perception Kit images the pallet. The software then analyses the 2-D, 3-D, and AI data to identify each pickable item in the scene and assigns each one an associated confidence level.
2. PickOne sends the robot controller an array of pick locations and poses for each pickable item via the PickOne API.
3. If no item has a high enough confidence level, the software automatically generates a Yonder request by calling in remote human intervention. With a response time of under six seconds, these robot managers efficiently handle exceptions such as reflective packages or unfamiliar shapes by simply selecting an item in the scene to be picked. In seconds, Yonder updates PickOne, and PickOne sends the data to the robot.
4. In parallel, Yonder stores the Crew Chief’s responses allowing the machine-learning algorithms to make the system smarter as it works. This ensures continuously increasing performance over time.
Mixed Pallet Depalletization Capabilities
|Details:||Layer-By-Layer Picking:||Fully depopulates the top layer of the pallet before going to the next layer to prevent toppling.|
|Item Classification:||Classifies items by package type to dynamically adjust grip strategy, acceleration/deceleration, speed, and change path or end effector.|
|Empty Pallet Detection:||Confirms an empty pallet so that the system can replace the empty pallet with a full one.|
|Place Verification:||Images the place zone to confirm that only a single case was placed to prevent double induction.|
|Offset Picking:||If the item to be picked is smaller than the robot end effector, an offset is automatically calculated for the pick to prevent damage to adjacent items on the pallet.|
|Supported Item Types:||Boxes, overwrapped trays, cartons, bags|
|Supported Edge Cases:||Homogeneous layers of flat black cases, cases with alternating color on the flaps, banded cases, cases with highly reflective tape, cases with gaps|
|Pick Command Processing Speed:||350ms - 480ms typical|
|Typical Pick Rates:||350 - 700 picks per hour|
Work With the Expert in Robotic Depalletization
Your depalletization project is in good hands. Over several decades, we have developed extensive expertise in the complexities of depalletiziation and inbound material handling challenges. Our capabilities include:
- Slow to medium-speed case and row picking and high-speed full layer depalletizing
- Dual-pallet picking
- Ability to meet rigorous requirements of washdown, freezer, and high humidity environments
- Experience with a wide variety of pallet patterns including column-stacked, interlocked or pin-wheel configurations
- Depalletizing of mixed or rainbow pallets
- Detection of slip sheets and tier sheets
- Safety guarding to include options such as fencing, light curtains or area sensors
- Application-specific end-of-arm tools with optional automatic tool changeover
- Four- to six-axes robots, selected to meet the specific application (speed, product weight and size)
- Easy-to-use Human Machine Interface supported by our proprietary User-Centric Design including the ability to restrict access depending on authority level
- PackML standardized programing language to ease integration and servicing
Connect With Pearson To Solve Your Depalletizing Challenges
If you are ready to optimize your warehouse or distribution center by automating the depalletizing process of your incoming products, reach out to us! We look forward to working with you to drive efficiencies, reduce injuries and minimize operational costs. Contact us today!
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