Industrial Robots Evolve to Meet Warehouse Challenges

Apr 24, 2011

As technology continues to advance, industrial robots are being integrated into a wider range of applications including warehouses. Robotic software, vision systems, sensors, and EOAT are offering distribution companies more intelligent and flexible solutions. Contact experts today for more information on the integration of your robotic solution for your warehouse.


Until recent­ly, indus­tri­al robots have been rel­a­tive strangers to the ware­house dis­tri­b­u­tion indus­try. But new devel­op­ments in robot tech­nol­o­gy, specif­i­cal­ly robot­ic soft­ware, vision sys­tems, sen­sors, and EOAT, have brought about a new era.

Thanks to these advance­ments, robots are now capa­ble of offer­ing dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pa­nies much more intel­li­gent and flex­i­ble solu­tions.

The ware­hous­ing indus­try has been quick to embrace the new and improved robot­ic tech­nol­o­gy. Accord­ing to a study by Paul Kel­let, RIA Mar­ket Analy­sis Direc­tor, ware­house dis­tri­b­u­tion is one of the most promis­ing emerg­ing mar­kets for indus­tri­al robots.

Fac­to­ry Han­dling Ver­sus Ware­house Handling:

Robot­ics is not the only rapid­ly evolv­ing indus­try. Ware­house dis­tri­b­u­tion has under­gone many changes too. The vari­ety and num­ber of SKU’s has increased dra­mat­i­cal­ly in recent years. Cycle times have short­ened con­sid­er­ably because of the rapid and con­stant changes in prod­uct size, shape, and pack­ag­ing. In addi­tion, the anato­my of pal­lets has switched from homoge­nous to large­ly het­ero­ge­neous as the demand for mixed, direct-to-store pal­lets increas­es.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, indus­tri­al robots were best suit­ed for fac­to­ry mate­r­i­al han­dling sit­u­a­tions where one sim­i­lar­ly shaped prod­uct is pal­letized or de-pal­letized. Luck­i­ly, recent advance­ments allow robots to lend a hand even in the fast-paced and ever-chang­ing ware­house dis­tri­b­u­tion indus­try.

Robot­ic Tool­ing to Fit Ware­house Needs:

In order to han­dle a wide vari­ety of prod­uct sizes and shapes, robots in ware­house dis­tri­b­u­tion cen­ters require extreme­ly flex­i­ble end-of-arm-tool­ing. Advance­ments in robot­ic grip­per tech­nol­o­gy make it pos­si­ble for robots to accom­mo­date a mix of dif­fer­ent pack­ag­ing mate­ri­als and prod­uct dimen­sions. This allows robots to load and unload mixed SKU pal­lets. Robot­ic grip­pers are able to han­dle parts with care and dex­ter­i­ty — main­tain­ing prop­er pal­let bal­ance and pro­tect­ing prod­ucts from dam­age.

Soft­ware for Dis­tri­b­u­tion Applications:

Robot man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Fanuc Robot­ics and Motoman have cre­at­ed appli­ca­tion-spe­cif­ic soft­ware that allows mate­r­i­al han­dling robots to pro­vide intel­li­gent solu­tions for dis­tri­b­u­tion cen­ters. This soft­ware offers algo­rithms (pre­planned and/​or real-time) which make it pos­si­ble for the robot to adjust to dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, vary­ing align­ments, pal­let bal­ance, mixed pal­let arrange­ments, and any unplanned changes (that’s where the real-time soft­ware option steps in).

[Some of the soft­ware options include Fanuc ROBOGU­IDE Han­dling­PRO, Pal­let­Tool, Ran­dom Order Pal­let Tool, MotoPal­let EG, Easy­Pal­let Pen­dant, and Easy­Load Pen­dant.

Devel­op­ments in Vision and Sens­ing Technology:

Anoth­er key ele­ment in the robot tech­nol­o­gy evo­lu­tion is vision and sens­ing. Vision sys­tems (such as Fanuc iRVi­sion) for robots have become more reli­able, afford­able, and easy to use. Robot vision is an invalu­able tool when it comes to locat­ing and posi­tion­ing prod­ucts in ware­house set­tings. Sen­sors give robots even greater del­i­ca­cy when han­dling and plac­ing prod­ucts. Togeth­er, vision and sens­ing tech­nol­o­gy allow robots to main­tain safe­ty and prod­uct qual­i­ty stan­dards.

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about robot­ic ware­hous­ing? Con­tact the experts at Robots​.com online or at 8777626881.

Let's talk!

Request your quick quote today.