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How to Plan for a Robotic Palletizing System

No one likes manual palletizing.

It’s physically demanding. It requires workers to bend over and lift heavy loads for extended periods of time. It has high injury and turnover rates. Quite frankly, it’s boring and repetitive. It’s one of the biggest challenges manufacturing and distribution operations face when trying to improve their efficiency.

When you combine this boring, back-breaking task with a serious lack of qualified workers, increased wage demands and general lack of interest in material warehousing jobs, it’s no wonder that manual palletizing has become one of the hardest end-of-line processes to staff since material handling’s labor supply continues to face scarcity.

The solution is simple – automate the end-of-line palletizing process with a robotic unit. The benefits are numerous and ultimately robotic palletizing is a cost-efficient and highly effective way of increasing overall operational efficiency and improving the bottom line. Unfortunately, robotic palletizing can be a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be. This article will cover what to look at when planning for a robotic palletizing system to make the transition from manual to automated easier.


Plan with the future in mind.

The most important thing to keep in mind when making the switch from manual to robotic palletizing is that this solution needs to be versatile and scalable for the future. There’s not much sense in getting a robotic cell or system that can only handle what’s in the warehouse now, as that is guaranteed to change during the system’s lifetime. Making sure a systems provider incorporates this versatility is key for getting the best return on investment and maximizing long-term viability. When planning for the future, be sure to consider things like consumer demand changes, differences in packaging or shipping requirements, variations in product size and production rate changes.


Think in terms of SKUs, not cases.

The best palletizing systems don’t only look at how many cases a system will run, instead it looks at each SKU individually. It will need to consider the total number of SKUs, how many of those will need to run immediately, and most importantly at what rate and in which patterns those SKUs will move through the system. This will help educate decisions on what type of robotic palletizer is right for the operation and how exactly it will perform the specific tasks needed.


Pick the right palletizer.

Nowadays, automatic palletizing systems come in all types of sizes and are capable of many different applications. Most systems check the boxes of dynamic and able to handle many SKUs, which is a key part of an efficient, long-term solution. The other big component is that the system is user-friendly and simple to operate. The point of robotic palletizing is to automate the process, so having a system that requires constant monitoring defeats the purpose. Consider how often the system will need to be adjusted. For some operations, the palletizer and its related SKUs will be changed on a daily basis. For others it could be weekly or even monthly. For operations with a large product variety, consider utilizing a system with the capability of detecting different kinds of products upstream and changing its palletizing parameters on the fly to adjust as it moves downstream. This can be a huge timesaver for operations with a large product mix.


Carter is here to help.

Carter Intralogistics has a history of helping clients find the right palletizing system for their operation. If you’re interested in making the transition from manual to automated palletizing, Carter can help you find the the solution. Please reach out to Joel Thomas at at joelthomas@carterintralogistics.com or by phone at 240-818-1835 for more details.


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