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Six benefits of robotic palletizing software

For decades, robotic palletizing technologies have provided an automated alternative for companies whose operational demands have outgrown the capabilities of manual processes. These robotic palletizing (and depalletizing) cells have not only helped offset labor costs and availability challenges, but also have enabled many manufacturers to keep pace with increasing order volumes. But to maximize operational efficiencies and address the demands of modern palletizing challenges - such as rapid changes in packaging designs, SKU proliferation and complex load configurations - software is becoming an integral part of robotic cell operation.

In our recent On The Move webinar, titled "Stacking up the advantages of robotic palletizing software," I explained how recent advancements in software are making the ownership of robotic palletizing cells more user friendly while accelerating their return on investment. What follows are the top six benefits of palletizing software that I discussed in the webinar. 

1. Flexibility in the hands of the end user - Robotic palletizing software has placed advanced programming power into the cell owners' hands, providing facility personnel with a wide range of features and configuration options.

2. Easily adapt and optimize operations when changes are introduced - Software enables end users to quickly modify existing patterns or loads and/or create new configurations as business dictates. End users can quickly search, store and share patterns for maximum operational efficiency. 

3. Reduced operator training and skill sets required - Intuitive software interfaces allow end users with a basic understanding of load construction to design complex load patterns without having to receive ongoing robotics training. 

4. Lower total cost of ownership - Software has enabled a much more self-sufficient robotic cell support model which has in turn lowered the cost of ownership. By allowing robotic cell owners to take programming into their own hands, software greatly reduces the need for vendor interaction or maintenance team involvement. 

5. Increased quality and performance - Whether it's the ability to simulate the integrity of a potential load design or the flexibility to optimize load sequencing at the required throughput rate, robotic palletizing software delivers the advanced tools and features to significantly increase operational quality and performance.

6. Improved implementation and execution times - Software reduces the implementation time of robotic cells, including setup, commissioning and testing. It also reduces the time required to make changes during operations and adapt to changing production requirements, such as creating, modifying or validating load configurations. 

While software advancements alone have enabled robotic palletizing cell owners to take more ownership of setup, configuration and optimization responsibilities, it's important to remember that software is just a part of the overall palletizing solution. A robotic cell architecture may be comprised of a laptop, personal computer, robotic controller and pendant, system level controllers and human machine interface. With such a wide range of solution types and integration scenarios, there is no one-size-fits-all solutions for today's diverse scenarios. 

To gain a more complete understanding of how software can significantly improve robotic palletizing (and depalletizing) programming efficiencies, please view this webinar in its entirety

A lucky 7 things to do in Vegas while at PACK EXPO 2017

The biggest packaging and processing show in North America is back in fabulous Las Vegas! PACK EXPO 2017 is coming soon to the Las Vegas Convention Center, with more than 30,000 attendees, over 2,000 exhibitors and more than 40 vertical industries expected from Sept. 25-27. If there's one town in which you don't need help finding things to do, it's Vegas. But to help make the most of the Entertainment Capital of the World and PACK EXPO, check out these seven can't-miss activities. 

Stay organized with My Show Planner

Before arriving at the show, set up a profile here. The My Show Planner app provides an easy way to stay organized and on-schedule with your mobile device. It combines planning and logistics into one easy-to-use tool to help find exhibitors, sort by location and add conference sessions.

Take off at the drone demo

A new addition, the PACK EXPO DRONE DEMO - Packaging for the Last Mile features the latest in drone technology. Scheduled for presentations on the half hour, unmanned drones take off from the top of electric trucks and make deliveries to mock houses in the 15,000 square-foot exhibit in the north hall, booth N-645. 

"Listen to the Music" with the Doobie Brothers! 

Legendary California classic rockers The Doobie Brothers bring their unique blend of R&B, soul and Southern-fried boogie to PACK EXPO! The Doobies kick things off Monday, Sept. 25 at 4 p.m. to rock hits like "What a Fool Believes," "China Grove" and "Takin' It to the Streets." Don't forget to pack your dancin' shoes!

Have a dance with Lady Luck

What's a trip to Vegas if you don't try your luck at the Roulette or Poker table? From the airport to the legendary strip, take a shot at all the classic table games, slots, video poker, race and sports books, daily and monthly events and much more. Virtually non-stop gaming action can be found up and down the strip and open all night.

Watch future industry innovators compete

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, be sure to check out the Amazing Packaging Race. It includes stops at the Intelligrated booth C-3906 and other exhibitors, with students from colleges and universities around the U.S. racing around the PACK EXPO show floor to complete various engineering challenges. We can't wait for students to see what we have in store for them at the Intelligrated booth! 

Take a virtual journey, from skydiving to the factory floor...and more! 

At booth C-3906, Intelligrated Lifecycle Support Services (LSS) will host a virtual reality experience that's sure to get your pulse racing. It starts about 13,000 feet off the ground in an airplane, before visiting the factory floor and some other unexpected locations. The immersive experience gives more information on complete lifecycle support, including assessments, modifications and upgrades, training, parts and technical services designed to maximize value from material handling system investments. Representatives from Intelligrated LSS will be available for further discussion of system assessments - part of our comprehensive lifecycle management framework. 

See the robots in action at the Intelligrated booth!

The Intelligrated booth demonstration at C-3906 showcases robotic palletizing and depalletizing solutions, with a focus on the flexibility to accommodate a wide variety of workflows, product types and layout requirements. Learn about our IntelliGen palletizing software, a flexible solution offering easy adjustment of pattern and load configurations according to changing product dimensions and other variables - no service calls or complex external software programs required. And to keep automated systems performing at peak levels, talk to Intelligrated LSS about system assessments that form the foundation of our proactive lifecycle management framework.

Have a great PACK EXPO 2017! VIVA LAS VEGAS! 

Stacking up the advantages of robotic palletizing software

Robotic palletizing cells are becoming an increasingly viable option for those seeking to boost palletizing efficiencies. Faced with manual labor challenges, ever-expanding product profiles and frequently changing pattern and load configurations, more businesses are investing in robotic palletizing systems to make good on the promise of automation. But justifying a robotic cell investment requires a clear understanding of the actual cost of ownership and the cell's ability to fulfill both near- and long-term objectives. 

Traditional robotic palletizing systems require the use of teach pendants or PC-based software utilities to create new or change existing pallet patterns. Recent advancements in palletizing software have placed this programming power into owners' hands, making robotic palletizing cells even more user-friendly - and their ROI even more appealing. Instead of making a service call or using complex external software programs, the software enables facility personnel to plan and adjust for current and future load configurations, patterns and product sizes. 

In our next On The Move webinar, taking place on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT, Doug Stoll, Intelligrated's palletizing product manager, will take a closer look at how palletizing software is helping plant managers more effectively program and support these indispensable robotic cells. Attendees will learn about the types of palletizing software and the many advantages this new generation of functionality offers, including: 

  • Drag-and-drop for ease of use
  • Enhanced user help tools and screens
  • Adaptive capabilities that flex with business needs and future expansion
  • Integration with leading PLC providers for maximum applicability

Using this intuitive new software, owners can simply create new robotic palletizing patterns from scratch or quickly modify existing templates. In addition, multiple patterns, templates and slip sheets can be configured per load and pallet type, giving cell owners the flexibility to adjust for variations in case size and store a wide variety of stable load options. And integrated multi-pick, multi-drop and row-forming capabilities enable higher palletizing rates, even on "labels out" patterns.

To learn how your company can benefit from advances in robotic palletizing software, register now to join Doug Stoll on Thursday, September 14. 

Intelligrated robotic palletizing and depalletizing solutions roll into PACK EXPO 2017

Las Vegas is like no other place on earth, with countless shows, casinos and of course, PACK EXPO! From Sept. 25-27, more than 30,000 attendees will descend on the Las Vegas convention center for this year's show, exploring over 900,000 square feet of the latest packaging and processing technologies. 

At booth #C-3906 in the central hall, the Intelligrated demo will showcase robotic palletizing and depalletizing solutions. The robotics on display offer the flexibility to accommodate a variety of packaging types, stacking patterns and layout constraints while delivering reliable, high throughput with reduced labor requirements. 

The booth demonstration showcases a unitizing approach to robotic palletizing in which loads are built directly onto slip sheets or conveyor, rather than pallets. The loads then travel on Intelligrated Palmat conveyor, a full-width, heavy-duty modular plastic belt designed for loads that are unstable or difficult to handle - ideal for transporting empty containers to filling lines. Finally, the robotic depalletizer unloads items and places them on an MDR conveyor system for transportation back to the palletizer. 

For operations dealing with SKU proliferation, international markets and other complexity, IntelliGen palletizing software can allow them to easily adapt pallet load configurations and stacking patterns based on product size, packaging changes or other variables. Booth visitors can learn about the user-friendly, flexible nature of IntelliGen and how it enables easy adjustments without the need for a service call, specialized technicians or complex external software programs. As an RIA-certified robot integrator, Intelligrated offers the proven experience and expertise to design, implement and support robotic solutions built around operational challenges. 

To round things out, Intelligrated Lifecycle Support Services will feature a virtual reality experience on system assessments designed to maximize return on material handling investments and keep critical systems running smoothly. Backed by OEM expertise, these system and risk assessments are at the forefront of proactive lifecycle management to improve safety, system longevity and efficiency. 

To arrange a meeting at the show, email info@intelligrated.com. Spanish and French booth support will be available. 

We look forward to seeing all of you at PACK EXPO 2017

Managing the demands BOPIS puts on store labor

The advent of "buy online, pick up in store" (BOPIS, a.k.a, "click and collect") shopping is giving many brick-and-mortar retailers a way to reclaim precious market share, while at the same time driving up store visits. As more consumers embrace the opportunity to pick up online orders at the nearest store, retailers that can efficiently provide this emerging in-store fulfillment option gain a clear strategic advantage. But making good on the promise to fulfill BOPIS orders quickly is easier said than done. Customers who choose this option typically want to retrieve their purchases within a few hours after placing their order. To meet this service level expectation, retailers must be prepared to execute a new set of demanding tasks that are typically performed by existing store associates. 

The increased challenge to the labor force stems from the nature of the in-store fulfillment process. In the traditional shopping paradigm, customers traverse a store and fill their shopping carts with the products of their choice, and then proceed to a check-out line. In the click-and-collect scenario, it's the store associates who must now retrieve these items scattered throughout the store - without adding hours to their shift or hikes in the store's budget by hiring additional labor. This underlying change and the need for increased order fulfillment efficiencies are the reasons why retailers are seeking ways to optimize BOPIS order processing and fulfillment.

It's not enough to simply offer the option of click and collect; it must also be profitable for the retailer. Here are three tools that are proven to be effective in warehouse order fulfillment that will make in-store order fulfillment profitable by improving the efficiency and accuracy of existing labor resources:

  • Voice-based task engine - Voice solutions have a lot to offer stores moving to a BOPIS model. With very little time, new or temporary store associates can quickly be trained to use the system nearly as efficiently as an experienced associate. Voice direction allows eyes-up, hands-free operation, so staff can still provide in-store customer service as they fulfill BOPIS orders. Voice-directed task engines calculate the proper level of resources needed to fulfill existing orders, while capturing real-time transactional updates to ensure inventory accuracy by validating each item picked.
  • Optimized picking sequences / batching orders - With labor management software (LMS), optimal picking travel paths through the store are identified and used to direct store associates on the most efficient picking sequence. As orders come in, items can be batched to leverage economies of scale where appropriate. The result is greatly reduced foot-travel time and a more predictable order fulfillment process that ensures customer service level agreements are met. 
  • Labor planning - LMS also enables a more accurate planning process that evolves as your staff becomes more efficient. Retailers can precisely staff areas for optimized resource usage, deploying only the necessary workforce required to meet the demand. Ongoing labor performance data is captured and fed back into the system to improve forecasting and the predictability of the fulfillment process.

To learn more about how voice and LMS can combine to help retailers add BOPIS to their omnichannel fulfillment strategy, please visit the Store Solutions section of our website