Universal Robots Solves Random Picking Challenge at Pack Expo 2019, Providing Food for At-Risk Youth
A show-stopping, cobot-powered packaging line with the “Blessings in a Backpack” charity, interactive demos, free training sessions, innovative palletizing solutions, and a new customer service program.
Pick six differently sized food items randomly oriented on a moving conveyor and place each of these items into the same pouch. Then do this again 1,199 more times, ensuring each pouch has the same six items. This is the challenge Universal Robots and Allied Technology will address, quickly identifying and picking items – ranging widely from packs of Craisins® to cans of beef ravioli – in Pack Expo’s Robotics Zone during the three-day show.
“Random picking is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after automation tasks from industries such as e-commerce, fulfillment centers and warehousing,” says Regional Sales Director of Universal Robots’ Americas division, Stuart Shepherd.
“At Pack Expo, Universal Robots and Allied Technology will demonstrate how UR cobots can be quickly deployed in a compact, modular system, handling the entire process from box erecting, to vision-guided conveyor tracking, part picking, tote assembly, pouch filling and sealing, kitting and palletizing,” he says, adding how the packaging line is also a testament to the capabilities of Universal Robots’ growing number of Certified System Integrators (CSIs).
“Allied Technology was able to quickly create this fully-automated solution. We are delighted to see our cobots competently integrated in so many new packaging applications now.”
Allied Technology and Universal Robots’ packaging line features four UR cobots equipped with products from the UR+ platform that certifies grippers, vision cameras, software, and other peripherals to work seamlessly with UR’s collaborative robot arms. The latest flexible grasping technology will be showcased by a UR5e with Piab's new Kenos® KCS vacuum gripper guided by a vision camera from UR+ partner Cognex.
Once completed, the 1,200 bags of food will be delivered to “Blessings in a Backpack” a leader in the movement to end childhood hunger, ensuring that children receiving free or subsidized school lunches during the week do not go hungry over the weekends.
“We look forward to showcasing this demo that is meaningful in so many ways,” says Shepherd. “We are excited to partner with Blessings in a Backpack while also addressing the needs of the packaging industry with solutions that will simplify and fast-track cobot deployment on their lines.”
The picking capabilities of Universal Robots will also be on display at the company’s own Pack Expo booth 7279 where Saber Engineering, another UR CSI, will present a demo featuring a UR5 that will locate and recognize randomly positioned batteries using an end-of-arm Keyence micro camera, picking and placing the batteries in vision checks for damages, then finishing the cycle by placing products into trays per specific voltage requirements.
Free training during the show
Manufacturers wanting to kickstart their cobot-assisted packaging applications can now sign up for free one-hour training sessions hosted by certified Universal Robots product trainers in a dedicated classroom at the show. “Pick-and-place,” “moving conveyors” and “palletizing” are the topics each covered in the three types of training sessions offered, enabling attendees to leave with a complete and functional program to use in their own setting.
New rapid response service programs
Pack Expo is also the launch pad for the company’s new “Service360 Now” program that unites Universal Robots with distributors and customers in customized service plans designed for rapid response and predictable production, facilitating direct access to cobot specialists, resolving any cobot issues quickly.
The new program ensures UR customers uninterrupted uptime through a 24/7 Customer Portal online management system with the ability to dispatch on-site UR experts within hours. Individual reviews of preventive maintenance, cobot optimization and performance will be offered through video or on-site meetings.
Interactive “playpen” area
Unlike traditional robots caged away from show attendees, visitors to the UR booth are able to walk right up to the UR cobots and interact with them. The booth “playpen area” will feature several cobot arms including a UR5e with Robotiq’s new UR+ certified E-Pick Vacuum Gripper, allowing attendees to explore on-the-spot programming.
The gripper is one of the recent additions in a rapidly expanding UR+ product portfolio that now includes no less than 195 UR+ certified products with 400+ companies participating in the UR+ developer program. The Robotics Zone will also feature a stand-alone UR3e demo with the CobotPump ECBPi from Schmalz. Numerous partners will be present at other Pack Expo booths, showcasing benefits of their UR+ products integrated on UR cobot arms.