New robotic technology for packaging operations

It will likely be years before we fully understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is transforming business practices and operations. One area where its impact can be clearly seen, however, is the increased use of robotics in the factory. says Maya Xiao, Senior Analyst at Interact Analysis, “The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent labor shortages and rising wage costs have boosted factory automation across a wide range of industry sectors.”

In North America, the robotics market experienced its best quarter in Q1-2022. That’s according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), which reports that companies from the US, Canada and Mexico ordered 11,595 industrial robots during that time period – a 28% increase over Q1-2021. Revenue rose 43% to $664 million. “Across industries, the boom following the COVID crisis created double-digit growth compared to the same quarter last year,” notes IFR President Milton Gurry.

Tapping into the packaging market, a new report from PMMI – The Packaging and Processing Technology Association, titled “2022 Robots and Cobots An Automated Future,” shares that 54% of respondents will spend more on robotics in 2022 compared to 2019 .29%. The report also notes that the majority of consumer packaged goods manufacturers—84 percent—use robotics along their production lines today, and 93 percent of respondents predict they will use robotics on their production floor within the next five years.

According to the report, among the top five gains CPGs expect from the addition of robots are reduced labor and repetitive tasks (90%), increased speed and productivity (78%), repeatable quality and consistent product handling (67% ), improved operator safety (51%), and minimized waste and human error (33%).

Along with labor shortages, advances in robot payloads, end-to-end tooling (EOAT), artificial intelligence, machine learning, vision, hygienic construction and other innovations are helping the robot boom. In Part I of The world of packagingIn the Annual Robotics Report, we explore some of the technologies driving the use of robots in food and pharmaceutical primary packaging, case packing and palletizing applications.

Read the following sections of the report to learn more:

Robots reduce labor, increase product safety in primary food packaging

OEMs are introducing new delta robots designed to meet IP69K ratings and with improved vision and EoAT systems to handle pick-and-place functions in food packaging applications.

Hygienic characteristics of robots, precision pharmaceutical applications

A number of new robotic technologies are responding to the pharmaceutical industry’s need for greater automation, offering solutions for capping, picking and placing and other processes.

Box packing robots are characterized by flexibility, efficiency and speed

Nearly half of CPGs in a new survey report are using robots for secondary packaging processes. New robotic technology for packing club stores and for packing containers and lids gives them new opportunities.

Ease of use, programming are table stakes for palletizing robots

Seventy-five percent of CPGs already use robotics for end-of-line packaging operations. A new palletizer from Iris Factory Automation using a Kawasaki robot meets the growing need for robotics that is flexible and easy to operate.

Six-axis robots gently depalletize and clean cosmetic bottles

Italian contract manufacturer Cosmint has installed a new robotic depalletizing cell designed to clean and handle high-end, pre-printed cosmetic bottles without leaving a scratch.

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