I have magna adeo ut legitur (read to great extent), about the benefits of automation, integrated design or how good using robots is and could be in the packaging industry but no one ever tells me what the future of these is. They all say that the future of automation with robots: ‘gives a good return on investment’, ‘it means you can adapt easily to the changing product lifecycle’ and ‘it means that processes are safer’ but seriously, can anyone look outside the box (excuse the accidental pun) and actually tell me what the future of integrated, automated systems is? We can’t deny that full automation and the use of robots in integrated systems isn’t going to happen because it is. I could not find an answer to my question so I decided that I would imagine what the future holds.
At the moment integrated warehouse design is when there is an empty warehouse and experts come in and design it to make the packaging process as efficient as possible with the best equipment.
Automation is what makes the process efficient. So machinery is there to help the packaging process for example, a palletwrap machine. Robotics are part of the process in some cases. So these, although different things, contribute to one thing. These systems will need to be supported by current packaging efforts such as palletwrap and hanging mailing bags. For the near future, this will remain the same.
However, in the slightly further future, this automation will be taken over more than it is already. Robots, will begin to minimise human effort and as robotics progress even further, will eliminate the need for human effort at all (apart from the person programming the thing). And, robotics just got a little bit cooler. There are now robots that can ‘feel’ and ‘sense’ – as in like touch and see.
A few robots previously used vision sensors to capture still images and use them to do their tasks based on this one image. However, now sensors can be sampled 1,000 times per second and this means the robots can adapt and change course to achieve the correct output. So for example, in the packaging world, a robot could now realise while unpacking a pallet that the level has gone down and readjust its grasp (and then another robot would know the pallet is empty and provide another and so on). And what’s more, things that couldn’t be ‘seen’ before, now can be ‘felt’ (e.g. a shiny surface). in the not too distant future – these sorts of robots will soon do everything within an integrated system.
You may also like our blog on: A smarter warehouse is an efficient warehouse!
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