23 Jul 2024


‘Revolutionary’ cobot palletiser halves costs, opening SME market

The cobot-based palletiser developed by Omron and Reeco can be moved easily from one application to another, helping to reduce payback periods

Omron has collaborated with a UK robotics systems integrator Reeco Automation to develop a cobot-based palletiser that, they claim, costs up to 50% less than a conventional robot palletiser and has a 60% smaller footprint. They believe that the development will make end-of-line robotic automation economically attractive to producers of all sizes for the first time.

Existing robot palletisers take up considerable floor space, are complex to specify and program, and are difficult to redeploy to another location, making them cost-prohibitive for many SMEs. The new RB1200 cobot (collaborative robot) palletiser is a compact plug-and-play system that can be switched easily between lines, giving users the flexibility to cope with changes in demand across a factory.

With a maximum payload of 10kg and a cycle time of 12 picks per minute, the palletiser is said to be ideal for small-to-medium volume producers.

“The concept of collaborative robots working alongside humans has already been proven in automotive, warehousing and fulfilment environments,” says Omron UK’s marketing manager, Dan Rossek. “We believe the time is right and the technology is ready for this next-generation automation approach to be adopted for palletising tasks across a range of industries, from food and drink to personal care and pharmaceuticals.”

He believes that the development “has the potential to revolutionise palletising. Our offering is unparalleled in terms of its size, affordability and agility. The ease with which it can be set up for different products and layouts and redeployed around the factory floor is phenomenal.”

The palletiser has a 2.2 x 3.2m footprint – 60% smaller than a typical 4 x 4m Cartesian palletiser. It does not need physical guards and is inherently safe, using optical laser scanners to monitor the surrounding area and stopping movements if it identifies potential human contact.

Based on a standardised platform, and avoiding the need for a heavy-duty sub-frame to support a large robot arm, the cobot palletiser costs up to 50% less than a comparable traditional palletiser robot, making it a viable investment for many businesses that have previously ruled out robotics on the grounds of cost. Its flexibility, and the ability to move easily between production lines, could also help to cut payback periods.

“The RB1200 is light and transportable. It can easily be moved by pump truck to another line within minutes,” Rossek explains. “By contrast, to redeploy a traditional robot palletiser to another part of the factory would be a huge undertaking, requiring a significant logistics effort and considerable time.”

Configuration changes to accommodate different products, packs and layouts can be completed in minutes using graphical software. No programming skills or robot experience are needed to redesign a pallet pattern. The operator simply enters a few parameters such as box and pallet dimensions, defines the layout for the first and second layers, then repeats for as many layers as are needed.

Another potential attraction of the palletiser is its short lead times. From order to installation can take 2-3 weeks, slashing the waiting time for a traditional robots by months. The plug-and-play cobot is fitted with a universal end-effector that is claimed to handle more than 90% of box-based products. Reeco can also supply custom-designed tooling for special applications.

“The cobot palletiser is an off-the-shelf, market-ready solution that represents great value for money, with no hidden costs in design or engineering,” says the Welsh company’s managing director, Llewelyn Rees. “Leasing options and a fixed service contract are also available, making next-generation, end-of-line automation a reality for FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) producers of all sizes.”

OmronTwitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

ReecoTwitter  LinkedIn  Facebook