Determining which solution is best for your case packing application can be a daunting task to differentiate for any manufacturer, especially when you have not been equipped with knowledge to differentiate the two. That is where we come in. This blog will walk you through the key areas to consider when deciding between traditional, hard automation versus robotic.
The speed at which your case packer will run is determined by a handful of factors: product size, case style, upstream and downstream equipment, and line efficiency are a few. Of these factors, product size and case style are the two that directly impact whether you elect a robotic or traditional style case packer.
Traditional case packers have speeds that are unmatched when packing a dedicated range of products in side load or wraparound cases. Reaching speeds upwards of 85 cases per minute, this equipment is designed for consistency which allows high cycle times to be met.
Robotic case packers can also run at high speeds, however, you are likely packing small, lightweight items. Robots are ideal for packing top load cases and products of varying shapes and sizes.
Are you going to be running multiple products with varying sizes and pack patterns on a single line? If the answer is yes, then a robotic solution is going to be your best bet. Robotic solutions produce more flexibility than traditional case packers primarily due to tooling. Robots have faster change over speeds because the tooling can be made to handle multiple products. The robots can also use automatic tooling changeover to drop one end of arm tool (EOAT) and pick up another, if required, for running multiple products.
Additionally, manufacturers are determining product lifespan is not as long as it once was. Traditional case packers are engineered to run a specific product, if this product changes a few years down the road you are looking at a retrofit solution or an entirely new piece of equipment. On the other hand, robots are multipurpose assets that can be deployed into other areas of your plant or simply updated with a change to the EOAT. The flexibility of robotics is also manifested through the addition of SKUs. In many cases, additional SKUs can be added to the robotic program with little difficulty.
Maintenance also plays a role in the flexibility of a case packer. Due to fewer components on a robot, they tend to last longer. This results in less down time for repairs and ultimately, longer life span.
When it is all said and done, the answer to this question lies in your product. What are you packing? Size, shape, case style, weight, and speed. When you can clearly determine the answers to those questions you can progress forward, with confidence, knowing the solution you select will meet your needs and provide long term ROI.