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Robotic Palletizing 101: Types of Robotic Palletizers

This is the fourth article in the Robotic Palletizing 101 series, written and published as a direct answer to the rising tide of new companies considering robotic palletizing solutions in their warehouses, distribution centers, or manufacturing operations. So far we’ve covered what robotic palletizing is and why it’s important,  provided and overview of the key benefits of robotic palletizing solutions, and discussed how to determine when automation is right for you. This article will cover the three general types of palletizing solutions and talk about the key benefits and use cases for each.


Inline Palletizing

Inline Robotic Palletizing solutions boast some of the highest throughput rates achieved by any of the three major types of robotic palletizing solutions and is especially popular in the food and beverage industries. This solution is ideal for single SKU pallets or at the very least pallets with single-SKU layers.

Product continually moves down a central conveyor belt and is manipulated into target positions on the inline mesh conveyor belt using form fitting grippers. As they are being positioned, the items are conveyed into place where they would be on a pallet and a complete layer. During this process, small gaps are left between product to avoid collisions and subsequent errors. Once the layer has been formed, a mechanical end gap comes down to prevent product from entering the layer forming zone and the layer is conveyed as a group into the lifting position, where it is subsequently centered and placed on a pallet to move downstream. After placing, the end stop lifts and product once again begins flowing into its position in the layer forming zone. This solution is highly scalable but comes at the cost of an increased floorspace requirement to allow room for the inline gripper process.

For more information: Complete Palletizing Solutions’ High Speed, Inline Palletizer video is a great way to see it in action.


Layer Palletizing

Layer Palletizing, sometimes called Full-layer Palletizing, is like Inline Palletizing in that it creates complete layers and places them on the pallet. However, instead of using the inline gripper conveyor system to orient packages as they come down one central line, instead it uses a specialized, heavy-duty end of arm tool to lift an entire layer at once and place it on a pallet. The end of arm tool can vary in layer palletizing, but typically it involves powered or gravity rollers that product is rolled onto and subsequently rolled off and onto the pallet.

One key benefit of this method of palletizing is that it is more flexible in the layers it can produce and what types of items it can palletize. It also has a very low floorspace requirement, needing just room for the robotic arm to operate in and one inbound and one outbound pallet line.


Mixed-case Palletizing

Mixed-case Palletizing is the most versatile and flexible of all robotic palletizing solutions.

These solutions leverage software to build safe and secure pallets out of items with different sizes and weights. The system scans and dimensions packages upstream, creates an ideal pallet with those packages using a dynamic algorithm, and leverages a conveyor loop buffer system to hold packages until it’s their turn to come down the final line where they are lifted and placed in the correct position on the pallet.

It frequently presents the highest engineering challenges — both on the hardware and software fronts — but rewards end users the capability to build secure pallets with a wide variety of SKUs. This type of solution is critical for the future of e-commerce, where distribution operations rarely need to send a full pallet of one SKU to a fulfillment center at the end of the supply chain.

Carter has as proven history of providing mixes-case palletizing solutions for various material handling applications. Click here to learn more.



Carter Intralogistics has a history of helping companies take their first steps into robotic palletizing and we are happy to answer questions or concerns you may have about incorporating robotic palletizing into your operation. If you’re interested in our mixed-case palletizing solutions and software, read the data sheet. If you have a project in mind, contact sales@carterintralogistics.com and someone from our team will get in touch with you.   

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