Depalletizing is a common manufacturing operation that has attracted a lot of attention over the past few years due to a variety of industrial labor issues, ranging from a shortage of available workers to efforts to reduce risk of worker injuries. To help address these issues around depalletizing operations, Honeywell has introduced its Smart Flexible Depalletizer, which uses artificial intelligence to ease the implementation of robotic depalletizing technologies and minimize the need for manual labor to break down pallet loads.
Honeywell’s vision and perception technologies are used to guide the depalletizer’s robotic arm, allowing cases to be picked from a single- or mixed-SKU pallet in fixed or mobile locations. The company’s computer vision technology identifies the location of every case on the pallet, while its artificial intelligence-driven perception software automatically recognizes a variety of packaging formats.
The machine learning and motion planning used in the Smart Flexible Depalletizer optimize the movements of the robotic arm to ensure maximum picking speed. The system’s control logic senses the weight of each item as the robot lifts it and automatically updates its gripping response to transfer each product securely. Because the system uses machine learning to operate, the more picks the robot performs, the more it learns and continues to improve in unloading pallets.
According to Honeywell, the Smart Flexible Depalletizer robot can work in conjunction with pallet conveyance autonomous mobile robots. This combination of technologies enables “continuous operation of the system while providing the flexibility to stage pallets and empty stacks virtually anywhere the mobile robot is capable of traveling.”
Dr. Thomas Evans, chief technology officer of Honeywell Robotics, said, “Reliable depalletizing rates are of growing importance as consumer preferences continue to accelerate the rate of packing and the increasing product mix warehouses and distribution centers handle every day. With the labor constraints warehouses and distribution centers are seeing in filling these manual roles, this solution can be an ideal fit to help keep up with daily order volumes.”