Automation is one of the most effective ways to increase productivity in the packaging industry. While this was a luxury that was only confined to larger businesses, this is no longer the case. The invention of advanced robotic systems that are not only affordable but also smaller in size has made it possible for most small businesses to automate their processes. This has increased productivity, lowering of operational costs, and improved flexibility as far as adapting to changes in the market is concerned.
However, to be able to reap all the benefits of automation that collaborative robots provide, one has to ensure that the robots are perfectly optimised. This includes ensuring that they are armed with the tools necessary to execute the tasks that they are assigned. Since end effectors, that packaging robots use, play a significant role in determining their overall performance, making sure that you get it right when deciding which end effectors to go for is essential. The following is a list of the things that you should consider when making this decision.
Packaging involves different applications. Each of these applications may have unique characteristics that require different types of end effectors. For example, if you are handling materials that are the same size with a generally flat surface, using pneumatic grippers is prudent. However, if the task involves handling of delicate products, then opting for electric grippers will be more appropriate.
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Therefore, when it comes to grippers for your cobot, you should consider the texture, shape, fragility, and size of the packaging material or products that the robot will be handling. Also, if you intend to use the robot in different areas of the packaging process, the adaptability of the gripper should be considered.
The weight of the products and materials
You should consider the weight of the materials or products that the cobot will be handling. This is because grippers are usually designed to handle a certain payload. Therefore, for them to perform at their best, the weight that they have to handle needs to fall within the limits that have been set by the manufacturer.
The weight of the payload is a significant factor, especially when it comes to loading and unloading operations. It will also determine which type of gripper technology to settle for since different gripper types have various advantages. For example, pneumatic grippers are really good at generating a lot of force. They are also relatively more affordable when compared to electronic grippers. Therefore, if force plays a significant role in determining whether a task was performed successfully or not, going for a pneumatic gripper will make sense.
Degree of precision and accuracy required
Collaborative robots are generally accurate and precise. However, the degree of precision varies depending on which end-effector technology once chooses. Therefore, you should evaluate the possible applications you intend to assign to the robot and then determine the degree of accuracy that those applications call for.
Also, the accuracy and precision requirements will depend on the sensitivity of the materials or products being handled. For applications that involve extremely corrosive or dangerous chemicals, an extremely high degree of precision and repeatability will be called for. In such a case, using an electric gripper with highly advanced sensors will be prudent.
While electric grippers provide more accuracy and control, they cost more. Pneumatic grippers, on the other hand, are not as expensive as electric grippers, but they don’t offer as much accuracy and control as an electric gripper. Therefore, when deciding which gripper to go for, you will have to weigh the advantages of the gripper against the capital required to purchase and deploy them. The only thing you should keep in mind when making this decision is to include the cost of cables, wrists, and any other additional sensors that you need for the robot to be operational.