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What Is a Pick and Place Robot?

A pick and place gripper robot brings automation to your manufacturing environment. These convenient robots are capable of handling fast-paced, repetitive tasks to automate the process. Explore the main types and benefits of these robots for your facility.

How They Work

Due to the wide range of applications and arm types, there are many different ways that these robots can operate. On a basic level, every pick and place gripper has a stable stand, an arm and a grasper. Most have a vision element to sense the position of items to grasp or weld.

State-of-the-art software commands these robots to perform various tasks, from simple pick and place tasks to identifying and sorting multiple items on a conveyor belt.

Types of Pick and Place Gripper Robots

Compare these common types of robots to determine the best option for your purpose. There are other types available, but these are the most common gripper robots for your pick and place process.

Articulated Robotic Arm

The most common type of robot for pick and place tasks is the articulated robotic arm. A 5-axis arm can pick up objects and move them on a single plane, while 6-axis alternatives are capable of more complex movements. These arms can quickly twist, turn and relocate items in accurate, repeatable ways.

Delta

A series of parallelogram arms are joined to a center base to create a delta robot. These are some of the most precise pick and place robots available. They use an end effector, typically a suction cup, to achieve rapid and precise movements.

While the exact design can vary, most have three arms operating on four axes. A heavy motor and lightweight arms provide the power and speed necessary to quickly load objects into boxes and containers.

Cylindrical

Power rotational movement with the linear motion prismatic joint of a cylindrical robot. A small footprint and efficient design keep the cost and space restrictions down on this type of pick and place gripper. They’re useful for carrying items around a stationary centerpoint.

Cartesian

Cartesian robotic arms use three axes of movement powered by belts, lead screws or balls. The positional accuracy is higher than other robots, particularly the articulated robotic arm, but it lacks the range of movement of other pick and place solutions. This type of robot is easier to program than others, so you can quickly set up a new pick and place project.

SCARA

SCARA robots use two axes of movement and a rigid third axis to create a cylindrical work envelope. These robots are great for screwing, small assembly and pick and place tasks, though the range of motion may be more limited than other types of gripper robots. One limitation to their work envelope is the back of the arm. Hoses and cables attached to your SCARA robot cut into the available workspace.

Collaborative

Some pick and place robots are designed to work closely with humans. They can be used to guide and lead humans or work collaboratively with reduced risk of impact or injury thanks to the sensors. Don’t attempt to use another type of robot in close proximity with humans, or they may become injured if they approach the work envelope during operation.

Fast Pick

When you need a high-volume, high-velocity pick and place solution, choose this style of robot. They’re ideal for fast-paced activities that may not have high enough impact to be suitable for your human workforce. Add promotional items or pack boxes of small items from a pool of identifiable SKUs.

Benefits of Using a Robot Pick and Place

Consider choosing a robot pick and place solution to enjoy these benefits:

  • Increased output
  • High-speed performance
  • Excellent consistency
  • Programmable convenience
  • Reduced physical strain on human workers

The right robot, with the right programming, can alleviate the stress and strain of your human workforce. Accelerate the movement, material handling or welding tasks in your facility with full automation support.

Common Applications for Pick and Place Robot

Consider the best tasks to automate with your pick and place robot assembly. Depending on your industry and the scope of your tasks, one or more of these tasks can be automated to streamline your industrial process.

Pick and Place

See why these robots are named after this repetitive task. The right robot and programming can perform the same repetitive tasks at high speeds for millions of cycles. Perform these tasks with a gripper robot in conjunction with a packaging line, cell or conveyor system.

Inspection

Instead of an end effector that’s only operated by programming, some pick and place robots have advanced systems capable of inspecting individual items. Use these robots to monitor an assembly line or conveyor system for any defective parts. The robot can then pick them up and place them in a pre-programmed location.

Material Handling

Sorting, packaging, bin picking and other material handling tasks are all within the range of movement and programming of your robot. Collision-detection systems and other sensors make it possible for these grippers to work in close proximity with other robots or with humans.

How To Choose the Right Pick and Place Robot

Now that you know the common range of applications and the popular types, it’s time to narrow your search and choose the right assembly for your situation. Choose the right robot for your industrial process using these features.

Work Envelope

The physical distance your robot is capable of reaching, horizontally and vertically, is known as the work envelope. The size and design of the robot will determine the work envelope. Be sure it’s large enough to handle the distance between conveyor systems or the size of your components being welded.

Degree of Movement

Some robots only have a few axes of movement, preventing them from twisting and rotating items. Choose a robot with at least four axes of movement for most applications, but some require five or six axes for your application.

Speed of Movement

A pick and place robot needs to move quickly and accurately to efficiently replace your human workforce. The maximum speed of your robot is typically indicated in degrees per second from 0 to the maximum speed of movement.

Repeatability

Precision is just as important as speed. Repeatability is measured in the tolerance of the arm. A zero-tolerance radius keeps the arm moving and performing tasks accurately. Failure to repeat movements with low tolerances results in missed items and other performance issues.

Payload Capabilities

When you want a robot arm to pick up and move items, it needs to have sufficient strength to lift the item safely. Choose a robot and end of arm tooling that’s rated for your heaviest items and most demanding applications.

Vision

Not every robot needs to have a system of sensors to visualize products. If you include a vision guidance system, however, your pick and place robot will be capable of identifying multiple items from a pool. Any robot used for quality assurance or for organizing multiple items on the same conveyor system needs this feature.

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