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More palletizing flexibility - hold the hassle

SKU proliferation continues to drive change and innovation in virtually every part of the supply chain, in distribution centers and manufacturing operations alike. For palletizing operations, this spurs a need for greater adaptability as moving a more diverse product mix to more markets around the world dictates new package handling requirements, pallet types and pattern configurations. 

Making adjustments to account for these changes can be a cumbersome process, requiring complex programming and technical support. Even basic adjustments for product changeovers may require a service call or external software programs. 

But what if these adjustments didn't have to be so complicated?

Complexity takes time, an increasingly scarce resource for operations with high throughput goals and tight production timelines. And the challenge to find staff with the advanced skillsets necessary to execute palletizing changes is exacerbated by the well-documented talent gap facing supply chains.

These challenges call for simplicity. What if operations could take advantage of the palletizer's standard control system to make adjustments? Using the local human machine interface (HMI) can reduce the extra work and enable user-friendly, flexible adjustments of pattern and load configurations according to changing product dimensions, pallet types and other variables. 

Make adjustments a cinch and move into the fast lane

IntelliGen™ palletizing software comes integrated with the palletizing cell's standard control system and allows personnel to create pattern configurations with a simple drag-and-drop interface, greatly simplifying the introduction of new products or changes to existing SKUs. It also enables easier creation or modification of existing layer patterns by utilizing searchable templates. If case size changes slightly, or an extra layer or tier sheet needs to be added, the pattern and load configuration can be adjusted straight from the operator terminal - a far more efficient process than rebuilding from scratch. Making these new patterns and load configurations quickly and easily is critical to maintain tight schedules, keep output high and maximize efficiency. 

Any brand, any tool, any pattern

The IntelliGen platform offers wide-ranging compatibility across major robotic arm brands and a variety of end-effectors, including vacuum, clamps and bag tools. This reduces integration startup challenges, and produces an automated solution capable of handling everything from corrugate cases and plastic totes to bags. The software also supports advanced palletizing functionalities like row-forming, case-turning, partial row picks and multi-drops, all of which enable pattern flexibility - yielding higher throughput rates and maximum flexibility. 

The right combination to get ahead

This seemingly contradictory combination of expanded capability and simplicity is critical for successful palletizing in the warehouse and manufacturing environments. As an RIA-certified robot integrator and single-source provider with over 20 years of robotics experience, Honeywell Intelligrated brings the expertise and experience to provide material handling solutions tailored to operational challenges that deliver results. IntelliGen allows operations to focus on what they do best - protecting customer satisfaction and the bottom line. 

For more information on palletizing solutions designed for the challenges of today and tomorrow, read the Honeywell Intelligrated blog Picking the right pieces for a successful palletizing solution.

Next stop, Chicago! Intelligrated brings comprehensive automated solutions to PACK EXPO

It’s an exciting time of year in Chicago. Thanks to the World Series, Wrigley Field has taken over as the city’s epicenter in the north, but the Near South Side is primed to take center stage next week as McCormick Place hosts PACK EXPO International 2016.

From Nov. 6-9, attendees from more than 130 countries will find the latest solutions designed for today’s most influential challenges facing packaging and processing operations: constantly changing consumer demands, pressure to do more with less, labor challenges and advances in technology. At booth S-3666 in the south hall, Intelligrated will highlight high-throughput automation solutions, seamless integration capabilities and lifecycle support services.

The in-booth, live demonstration will feature the company’s new Alvey® 891i palletizer and a robotic depalletizing cell, integrated with vertical reciprocating conveyor and motor driven roller (MDR) conveyor. The solutions on display are ideal for food, beverage and consumer packaged goods operations with reduced or eliminated secondary packaging. This requires equipment capable of handling everything from display cases and polywrapped bundles to paper-board overwrap packs and more.

The Alvey 891i palletizer provides exceptional versatility and maintainability,  thanks to an updated user-friendly design. Ideal for both single and multi-line operations, this high-level, row-forming palletizer manages intricate stacking patterns and handles packaged food, beverage, converted paper and personal care products. The 891i also includes enhanced features for improved safety, ease of use and maintenance.

Intelligrated is recognized by the Robotic Industries Association as a certified robot integrator, and offers end-of-arm tooling designed and built in-house to handle a variety of applications and product types. This flexibility allows for quick product changeovers, frequent packaging changes and can handle single cases, rows or layers.

The vertical reciprocating conveyor offers a simple, cost effective solution to move cartons and totes in a compact footprint. The scalable solution offers  user-configurable input and discharge heights, and industry leading speed to match each operation’s unique requirements. 

Representatives from Intelligrated Lifecycle Support Services will offer advice to maximize return on material handling investments and keep critical systems running smoothly. Mechanical and risk assessments form the backbone of proactive lifecycle management and offer proven solutions to improve safety, system longevity and efficiency.

Stop by Intelligrated booth S-3666 to see the automation solutions that leading manufacturers depend on to exceed expectations for reliability, throughput and flexibility.

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

Intelligrated, now part of Honeywell, invites you to also visit their booth in Upper Lakeside Center, E-7441, for workflow productivity solutions that optimize manufacturing and warehouse operations, and embedded sensors and controls that help keep teams safe and productive.

I look forward to seeing you at PACK EXPO International 2016

Learn how to conquer palletizing challenges in the new On The Move webinar

Facility managers place a lot of focus on improving the productivity of their distribution and manufacturing environments. The importance of effective palletizing, which is often the last process that takes place within a facility, is sometimes overlooked. But when problems arise in the palletizing process, they create a ripple effect throughout the entire facility, often backing up other areas critical to maintaining productivity. Regardless of the operation, facility managers must try to minimize this pain and determine what the best palletizing method for their operation is.

Knowing when to incorporate or upgrade an automated palletizing solution is a difficult decision for facility managers. If you're struggling to keep up with increasing order volumes, unable to adapt to evolving packaging methods or outgrowing your manual pallet-building processes, these are indications that it may be time to reevaluate palletizing automation. From conventional systems and state-of-the-art robotics to hybrid options with varying degrees of sophistication, today's palletizing options can be difficult to sort through.

In our next On The Move webinar, Frank Pellegrino, vice president of machine products, and Matt Wicks, vice president of product development, will explore several key drivers for palletizing automation and help you decide which solutions are the best match for your unique throughput and capacity challenges. This webinar will take place on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. EDT. Attendees can expect to learn the following:

  • How palletizing automation is helping manufacturers increase production
  • Why distribution facilities are integrating palletizing solutions into their fulfillment workflows
  • When it's time to transition from manual pallet building to automated solutions
  • How to decide which is the best palletizing option for your operation

For facility managers whose operations have outgrown their manual palletizing processes, the decision to move to an automated solution is a matter of keeping up with production volume. It's as simple as realizing that there just aren't enough labor resources to meet manual palletizing demands.

There are also many changes in the market causing facility managers to reevaluate their palletizing strategies. First, rates are increasing, driving the need to maximize pallet efficiencies. Second, packaging materials and pallet profiles are changing, creating issues for older palletizing equipment that is incapable of accommodating them. 

The primary packaging change is the reduction of secondary packaging materials, typically the outer shell that protects the product. In many instances, this secondary packaging is going away altogether, causing the consumer product itself to be palletized with a much thinnner layer of alternate packaging material, such as loose paper or film that offers little protection. While this may increase the volume of product on the pallet, the low coefficient of friction is more difficult to control. 

To add to the challenge, some pallets are designed to display the palletized product in the store, often allowing one side to be open or perforated. And as packaging materials become thinner to improve sustainability - such as plastic bottles - it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid product damage or loss. All this adds up to a loss of productivity and efficiency, and the need for increasingly flexible palletizing options. 

If any of these challenges sound familiar to you, register now to join Frank and Matt for this timely On The Move webinar.

Intelligrated at PACK EXPO 2014: Robotic mixed-load order fulfillment solutions

Mixed pallet loads increase efficiency throughout the distribution network for food, beverage and consumer packaged goods

With PACK EXPO International less than a month away, 50,000 attendees are set to descend on more than 1.1 million square feet of exhibits at McCormick Place in Chicago. Intelligrated will debut next-generation robotic mixed-load order fulfillment solutions to help manufacturers and distributors meet demand for mixed-load pallets. Visitors can receive an in-booth demo by visiting Intelligrated booth#3536.

Where does this demand come from and how does robotic technology optimize complex pallet load building?

Retailers strive to deliver the product variety customers want at a price point they can afford, all while protecting slim profit margins. To avoid stock outs and streamline replenishment, companies have adopted a strategy of smaller, more frequent deliveries from distribution centers to stores, stocking shelves directly from pallets containing multiple package types and sizes.

Robotic technology brings the efficiency, accuracy and cost-saving benefits of automation to the traditionally manual process of mixed-load pallet building. Robotic systems build these pallets based on criteria such as size, weight, fragility and load stability. Robots can also accommodate other desirable load characteristics including shelf location and delivery sequence that help consolidate transportation routes and streamline replenishment at the store. This allows a stocker to methodically put away merchandise in the correct location and display sequence as they work their way down an aisle.

As manufacturers and distributors consolidate operations and leverage economies of scale, investments in robotic automation help maximize productivity throughout the supply chain. Today’s robotic systems offer the flexibility to automate virtually any mixed-case requirement, allowing operations to realize labor savings in the warehouse and store, increase accuracy and tighten inventory control.

To see a live demonstration of this robotic technology, visit Intelligrated booth #3536 in McCormick Place’s south hall. The demo features mixed-load robotic palletizing with specialized end-of-arm tooling capable of handling multiple cases in a single pick, an autonomous mobile robot to transport pallet loads, stack-and-wrap for load stability and a vision-guided robotic depalletizing station.

Booth visitors can also learn about other automation solutions such as automated storage and retrieval systems for order sequencing and buffering, and high-speed automated palletizing. Representatives from Intelligrated lifecycle services will be on hand to discuss system assessments, spare parts, and upgrades and modifications to increase operational life, capacity and uptime of existing systems.

Click here to register for the show and send an email to packexpo@intelligrated.com to schedule a meeting.

Gaining a Competitive Edge with Robotics

If there is one message to take away from the recent Automate show, it’s that robots are being integrated at a rapid rate inside the material handling industry. More and more manufacturers are implementing robotics into their operations to increase production speed and flexibility, address safety and ergonomic concerns and improve their bottom line.

Packaging Digest just did a webcast titled, “How Robotics Can Make Packaging Operations More Competitive.” Focusing on strategic implementation of robotics, the webinar included insight from industry leaders at Procter & Gamble, Kelly-Moore Paints and the Robotics Industry Association (RIA).

The Kelly-Moore installation is a great example of how implementing the right robotics solution leads to the best possible outcome. At the completion of an end-to-end plant overhaul, the company had over $1 million in annual savings.

Faced with the need to eliminate hand palletizing of both heavy pails and unwrapped trays loaded with either quarts or gallons of paint required a flexible solution. The system required high SKU change rate and needed to fit into a tight space, which led Kelly-Moore to settle on a palletizing solution featuring two robotic arms. The end result? Kelly-Moore was able to reduce their line changeover time by 80 percent and experienced a 76 percent return on investment in labor time during the first year of operation.

To learn more about how Kelly-Moore successfully made the switch from manual to robotic palletizing and their return on investment since implementation, check out the webcast and download Intelligrated’s case study.

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