According to the Robotics Industries Association (RIA), material handling is currently the largest and fastest growing robot application. Robots are well suited for a wide variety of material handling applications: pick and place, packaging, sorting, assembly, processing, palletizing, etc. Recent advancements in sensor and vision technologies are opening more doors for robots to contribute in a number of material handling capacities.
So it comes as no surprise that industrial robots had a strong presence at Pack Expo International 2010, the premier packaging tradeshow. In fact, many of the major robot manufacturers see Pack Expo as an opportunity to reveal their latest material handling products and workcell solutions.
Starting a Revolution: KUKA Robots
KUKA Robotics chose Pack Expo 2010 setting to debut a brand new product - a unified robot controller. Created in collaboration with Rockwell Automation, this new technology effectively (and simply) links KUKA PA-series robots with the Rockwell Automation ControlLogix controller. KUKA believes this new technology will streamline and revolutionize robotic automation.
In addition, KUKA Robotics showcased a number of material handling solutions featuring PA series robots. Two palletizing cells, one with a KR 100 PA, the other with a KR 180 PA, gave Pack Expo 2010 attendees a demonstration of the power, speed, and accuracy provided by KUKA handling robots.
Neat and Nimble: FANUC Robots
Pack Expo 2010 was crawling with Fanuc "spider" robots, the M-1iA and M-3iA. Capable of extremely fast and accurate movements, these parallel-link robots are ideal for low-payload (up to 6kg) assembly and low-payload pick and place needs. Show attendees were treated to multiple demonstrations of the robots' arachnid-like capabilities.
Fanuc Robotics also revealed a brand new robot, the M-410iB/140H, for bag and box palletizing applications. With a streamlined wrist and arm, the M-410iB/140H provides a compact solution that effectively conserves energy and space. USDA-approved, food-safe M-430iA robots were among FANUC's pick and place demonstrations.
From Blackjack to Food: Motoman Robots
Motoman Robotics' SDA10D demonstration was both entertaining and informative. "Dexterbot" was programmed to deal blackjack. More humorous still, the SDA10D had a jack-o'-lantern for a head! The SDA10D display gave attendees a good feel for the speed, dexterity, and dual-arm capabilities of this model. The SDA10D was outfitted with MotoSight 2D.
Another unique model, the IA20 "snake," displayed its powers of accessibility and insane flexibility in another cell. Additional workcells featured MPK2 and MPK4 food handling robots and packing MPK50 models.