A recent study released by Universal Robots shows that overexertion and repetitive movements account for 24 per cent and eight per cent respectively of workplace injuries in the US alone. The solution lies in working with cobots.

Manual palletising is not only dangerous for James McKew, regional director for Universal Robots APAC, but it is also costly. 

Cobots can ease the burden of workplace injury.
Cobots can ease the burden of workplace injury.

“Collaborative automation is paving the way to a fulfilled and productive workforce. However, there are still millions of tasks that can be automated, and it’s up to us to change the way in which work is done,” McKew continued.

“It is time for people to work with robots, not like robots.” 

The demand to automate palletising tasks has increased exponentially over the years, and today, palletising is one of the most popular tasks undertaken by collaborative robots (cobots) around the world.

According to Universal, cobots have relieved many factory workers from workplace injuries commonly associated with palletising, due to cobots’ being able to work safely alongside humans.

Speaking to the ergonomic pressure on workers, McKew said that manual labour focused on dull, dirty, and even dangerous jobs, comes at a price, as “not only is an employee at risk, but it also compromises on the business’ throughput and quality”.

“The demand on manufacturers to deliver the goods has exposed several drawbacks in traditional palletising methods,” McKew said. 

“It lacks the flexibility required for modern production and stifles the workforce. People should be focused on value-added tasks and working with robots. The way in which people view jobs has changed and should be focused on creating jobs focused on creativity and problem solving.

“Traditional palletising robots deployments requires extensive safety guarding to protect humans from harm, which adds to cost and footprint. Cobots add a high level of flexibility, safety, ease of use, and an attractive total installed cost.”

McKew says that there are some key questions to consider when using cobots in collaborative palletising applications, which are:

  • What type of palletising configuration is best suited to different applications?
  • Should you use a fixed pedestal or vertical 7th axis setup?
  • What are the basics of the payload?
  • What sort of gripper will you need?
  • Does the cobot provide a complete palletising solution?
  • What size should the overall footprint of your palletising cell be?
  • What are the safety considerations?
  • Is an easy-to-use specialist cobot palletising software available?
  • Is there software you can use to easily define stack patterns?
  • Where can you find real-world case studies?

As a solution to the high demand for palletising applications and the flexibility required by various customers, Universal Robots has developed its UR10e with a 12.5kg payload.

McKew says, “The advancements to the UR10 series allows us to offer customers enhanced flexibility such as a greater payload, more applications and the handling of heavier items.” 

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