It is indeed very enticing to uncover a packaged item delivered right at our doorstep, which we eagerly waited for after placing orders online, layer by layer. It is pretty exciting to find how a product is carefully wrapped and diligently draped around and is protected by multiple coverings and with unique material we might not have seen earlier. The fundamental idea is simple, until and unless an item is delivered to customers, payment is received and receipt is handed over with its copy with the vendor, deal isn’t regarded as finalized. Thus, as long as it remains with the manufacturer or vendor, it is a part of inventory and it becomes obligatory on part of any of these entities to undertake steps to protect it from any shock, jolt, heat, pressure or any such uncalled or unwarranted force encapsulated by physics and also during the handling and delivery process.
As a fallout, an independent field has emerged straightaway, that is called packaging industry calling for critical approach to packing and binding processes and in USA, it is 3rd biggest industry, while in case of India, it has soared to 5th place.
Now, looking at it from perspective of innovative technologies, numerous enterprises have come to light that have garnered a significant ground as prominent robotic packaging start-ups and I cover the top 5 among these after considering numerous factors crucial for the purpose, such as location, year of inception, cutting edge technology these employ and so forth. Let’s set out to discuss these groups in detail:
PP Automation, which is a start-up from Great Britain unfolds “Pacepacker” which is mechanism designed towards automation in bagging and case loading tasks. Besides, in the open-mouth bagging mechanism, manual work is seen drastically reduced by the purposeful placement of suck placers that are automated. Further, originally designed upon Cartesian principle of robotic design, such can pick and place packages of any size and weight and to retain the overall production process inherent with the actual production planning. Finally, for palletizing too, robots are offered from Pacepacker.
Clearly, with robotic framework at our end, every stage of packaging process, be it bagging or filling, case adjusting, packing, sealing, palletizing, stacking etc, can be deeply managed in an automated manner, which has its direct influence reflected upon productivity. Referring to bagging systems, such are perfected by use of robotic framework when set amount of product is packaged into bags which can be of various sizes and which can also handle stuff like low-density polyethylene (LDPE). As such, almost all upcoming start-ups falling under robotic packaging, design explicit tools meant for bagging and packaging to streamlining the process.
Arxium, dominant group of Canada, offers Faskpak, an array of solutions typically designed for healthcare setting, which can be altered as per the situation and helps in packaging packs for unit dose or multi-dose. Likewise, Fastpak Elite is their device for packaging oral medicines and is thus apt for hospital based pharmacies and other such centres providing long term care. Besides, there are developed smart canisters which are attached along the device and hence we can easily automate oral drug as per requirement. Then, there is also crafted bag sizing function that is potent and accurate size of pouch is opted for, which is according to material packed thereby and a business can save a lot of money thereby.
When pharmaceuticals are produced on a mass scale, compound losses are bound to be suffered, but such can be compensated by the use of robotics in the packaging scenario. Now, as new robotics arms are further programmed for accuracy and speed, greater adaptability is enjoyed in such processes as drug quantity varies from time to time. Moreover, any manual errors can also be checked for, resulting in an overall safe and secured packaging scenario.
There are businesses which are required to produce minimal quantity of goods and thus, sorting mechanism is harped upon. Further, such systems are enabled with AI algorithms and technology of computer vision alongside certain tools meant for scanning (barcode readers). Clearly, when such a dream combination of devices takes place, sorting speed gets a fillip and which nudges the overall packaging competence too. Turn-key robots are designed by recently established businesses which give strength to sorting for packaging practice that is ancillary service or that is the third party packaging service.
In this arena, Sunvato, which is from China, designs mobile robots and chic tech framework meant for sorting when packaging is done during e-commerce deliveries, warehousing and in designing and manufacturing process too. The agency has also developed a unique framework enabled by automated guided vehicle (AGV) which makes precise use of QR code to explore the location and therefore possibility of missed packaging rate is hugely overcome.
In grander scheme of things, there is also programmed (and which is patented too) an aspect of intuitive scheduling allowing numerous robots to function in tandem and to accomplish any high tasks within set timeframe and hence contribute to costs.
In the industry, we also have tertiary packaging considered as the last-minute lap of packaging process, wherein products are arranged into pallets before being transported. Conventionally, such activity is related to sheer manual labour involving injury risks to workers. But, we have systems of robotic palletizing with which ponderous pallets can be managed easily and humans are not needed to be employed in such areas to push and pull monstrous pallets.
Also, robotic palletizing solutions are fully amendable as per labourers’ need.
German start-up, Smart Robotics designs intuitive software meant for robotic structures to be employed in packaging, logistics and in broader FMCG sector too. The smart palletizer is like a final nail for palletizing products but with undue flexibility. Not surprisingly, with printed levers to grip in 3D form, such Smart Palletizers can easily practice palletizing an array of boxes either closed or opened, while the overall weight it can pleasingly handle is 8 kg.
Thanks to machine learning, a wide range of possibilities have been unlocked for robotic start-ups as they unroll pick and place mechanisms with towering accuracy. Not mincing words, with robotically designed picking, workers are relieved from performing tasks that are repetitive and consume a lot of time and productivity factor also gets surfaced.
There is involved an instance of machine vision in such pick and place mechanisms which is able to decipher (read) codes, tags and can identify shades to put stuff into destined boxes.
This is a start-up from USA which has gained value in picking and rebining systems which are robot based. The company has installed typical 3D-AI Vision Processor which makes use of precise learning algos as underlying technology that set stock-keeping units (SKU) into automated binning and also handles industrial spares accordingly. Additionally, the company also provides certain tooling solutions which can be deployed easily such as clamping, gripping and bagging which has a system of tool changing too.
The product can easily pick about 900 items in an hour and is assisting a wide range of industries such as apparel, consumer electronics, medications, packaged food and consumer goods falling under FMCG industry.
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Dear readers, data is key to imbibing insights and my objective is to unravel a broader synopsis before you, so you could put efforts towards the end goals, set in mind, quickly. The aforementioned 5 top start-ups in field of robotic packaging are actually players recoding bright performance while the total number of such start-ups stands at 202. In case you are guided by any exclusive norm pertaining to relevant solutions, please get in touch.