A Beginner’s Guide to Pick and Place Robots

Pick and place robotic systems are popular in modern production lines. Automating your production lines using these robots helps in speeding up your processes in a cost-effective way.

This allows you to increase your production rates. They can also handle repetitive tasks to free up your human workers for more complex tasks. In this blog, we will discuss the types of pick and place robots, how they work, their benefits, and their applications.

Types of Pick & Place Robots

Let us start with the different types of pick and place robots.

#1 Collaborative Robots

Also known as cobots, collaborative robots are designed to work alongside humans in a collaborative workspace. They are usually responsible for dull and repetitive tasks while human workers complete more thought-intensive and complex tasks.

Cobots are built to complement a human worker’s problem-solving capabilities. They help improve your workers’ efficiency by leading them to pick-up locations. They also guide them through their tasks and can even do real-time optimization of routes.

#2 Fast Pick Robots

Fast pick robots are suitable for applications with medium to high production volumes. They can fully automate your picking processes to free up your human workers, allowing them to focus on more important tasks. Fast pick robots have cycle times that can reach up to 150 cycles/minute.

#3 Delta Robots

Delta robots are mostly integrated into production lines that need to pick objects in groups. After that, the robots place the objects in containers or assembly patterns. They are equipped with high-end vision technologies that allow them to differentiate between various colors, shapes, and sizes.

Delta robots have several configurations, but most come with 3 arms with four axes each. Their lightweight arms are attached to connecting rods with ball joints that allow them to move.

#4 Cartesian Robots

Cartesian robots have the ability to work simultaneously in different planes. They move in 3 linear axes that are oriented perpendicularly at each other. Their rigid design provides them with good repeatability and precision levels. Cartesian robots can be installed with any linear actuator. You can also use different drive mechanisms such as lead screw, ball, or belt mechanisms.

#5 Robotic Arms

These are the most popular types of pick and place robots. You can use robotic arms with 5 axes for simple applications. For instance, you can use them if you need to pick up items and move them to other areas in the same plane.

Robotic arms with 6 axes are more suitable for applications that involve more complicated tasks. One example is when you need to twist or re-orient items before you place them in other locations.

How Pick & Place Robots Work

Pick and place robots are usually mounted on stable stands where they can reach various areas to execute tasks. Vision systems help them identify, pick, and move items to and from different areas.

Pick and place robots give you a wide range of options because you can configure them with different end-of-arm tooling. This allows them to handle different applications like bin picking, packaging, or assembly. For instance, you can use pick and place robots for picking up items and placing them in boxes for packaging. You can also use them to pick up components for assembly applications.

Benefits of Pick & Place Robots

Consistency and speed are the two main benefits of these robots. But, they also offer the following benefits:

  • You can customize them to meet your business’ specific production requirements.
  • They are easy to program to accommodate different kinds of applications.
  • They are lightweight and have small sizes so they are ideal for factories with limited working space.
  • You can use them to streamline your warehouse by automating packaging and picking processes.
  • They relieve human workers from repetitive and monotonous tasks to boost productivity.

Applications of Pick & Place Robots

Here are the main applications of pick and place robots along with how they are used in each application.

#1 Inspection

For pick and place robots that are designed for inspection, they have vision systems that allow them to:

  • Pick up items
  • Detect anomalies
  • Remove defective items

#2 Bin picking

In these kinds of applications, robots grab objects from bins. The robots used in bin picking also have vision systems that allow them to differentiate between different sizes, colors, and shapes. Thus, ensuring that they grab the right objects from the bin. They can even pick objects from bins containing random items. After picking the objects, the robots will send them to a different location for packaging or assembly.

#3 Packaging

For packaging applications, robots pick items from designated areas or incoming sources and then place them in packaging containers.

#4 Assembly

Lastly, assembly robots pick up incoming components from one location and affix or place them on another part of the product being assembled. Once the 2 pieces are joined together, they are transported to the succeeding assembly station.

Conclusion

Pick and place robots are used in a wide variety of applications because of their flexibility, consistency, and speed. They can be designed depending on your production line’s specific requirements. Robots are huge investments at first, but they can ensure a good ROI in the long run. Hopefully, this short guide was able to help you learn more about pick and place robots.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan