Frequently asked questions
An Industrial robot is a specialized robot designed for performing various industrial tasks. This is an automatic mechanical device, which can be programmed and controlled in order to perform precise production operations or other tasks needed in the industry.
Industrial robots are widely used in different industries, such as the production of vehicles, electronics, food, pharmaceuticals, or logistics. They can be used to perform tasks, which are hazardous, boring, difficult for humans, or require precision and repeatability.
Industrial robots must be possible to program to perform various tasks, such as assembling, welding, painting, packaging, feeding, transporting heavy items, and many others. They are equipped with other types of tools and manipulators, which make it possible for them to perform specific activities.
Depending on their job, the industrial robots may be controlled using computer software, algorithms, sensors, or remote control measures. They could also be an element of automated production lines, where they cooperate with other robots and machines.
The key advantages from the use of industrial robots are an increase in the efficiency and precision of production, reduced operating costs, improved product quality, improved occupational safety, and the ability to work continuously.
According to a report by IFR, namely the International Robotics Federation, in 2013 approximately 179,000 industrial robots were sold. It’s 12% more than in 2012. Since then, the use of industrial robots has been growing dynamically. In 2018, 422,000 units were sold, and the overall number of the machines reached 3.5 million units.
There are many different types of industrial robots, which can be divided into different categories by their intended use, capacity, size, and other factors.
Here are several basic categories of industrial robots, which we use
in our projects:
• Manipulation robots
• Mobile robots
• Cooperating robots (Cobots)
• SCARA robots – Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm
• Delta robots
• Heavy robots
The manufacturers of robots, at a client’s request, might deliver units which combine features of different categories.
In our projects, these robots are used for different jobs, such as: moving loads along with their palletization, or depalletization, secondary packaging, quality control, work with hazardous materials or laboratory work.
A robot is a machine. Although it is 99% reliable, since it executes tasks based on parameters entered and verified during tests, the safety of the workers present within its range must always be ensured. For this reason, each robot installed at a production line is fenced from the employees usually with metal netting. Any (sudden) entry of any personnel into the robot’s zone during its operation will result in its prompt stoppage (emergency STOP).
The robotized system meets the criteria of the standard PN-EN ISO 10218-2.
The safety circuit meets the criteria of the standard PN-EN ISO 13849-1.
In 2015, Fanuc Robotics presented the world’s only robot which co-works with a human (collaborative robot). The CR – 35iA robot, equipped with force sensors and “dressed” in a soft, rubber skin, does not require any additional safety devices when it works next to people. The operators may operate it, teach it to perform tasks, or simply push it away if it interferes in some activities at the given moment. The robot’s acceptable load is 35 kg. The ability to cooperate with a human without any protective netting is confirmed by the safety certificate TÜV ISO 10218-1:2011, category 3, PL=d.
The robotization of the palletization process is definitely most beneficial for enterprises where it is required to simultaneously palletize products delivered from several production lines on separate pallet units. Wikpol has implemented many systems with a single robot handling several packaging lines, The record holder is able to simultaneously palletize products from fifteen packaging lines at fifteen palletizing stations, while moving fast between them.
Another palletizing model, where flexible, robotized solutions are used, is the palletization of different product packages on a shared pallet unit, the so-called palletization on demand (according to the client’s order).
The advantages of packaging and palletizing by means of an industrial robot will be also appreciated by these enterprises which have a limited production space. A robot is able to work in a very constrained space, while skillfully avoiding structural poles of the hall, or to bow, when necessary, and move at a speed of 130° per second “millimeters” under a protruding ceiling beam.
An equally important factor determining the choice of a robot for palletizing tasks is the flexibility of this kind of solutions. In the case of robot-based lines, a change in the parameters of the packages such as the dimensions, weights, and shapes, does not involve a costly reconstruction, which would prevent returning to the previous parameters of the product being palletized (as it is common with simpler palletizing devices).
The robot-based lines equipped with properly designed grippers are able to palletize products with different parameters, and do not require any corrections in their design.
Wikpol has completed projects which make it possible to palletize even more than a hundred products of different sizes, weights, and arrangement templates on the pallets, without the need to make any changes in the system, apart from selecting the type of the product currently being palletized on the operator’s panel.
When considering the purchase of a palletizing line, carefully consider not only the process, and the resulting needs, but also, or perhaps even primarily, analyze the issue in the long run. What requirements must a palletizing line meet in a year, two, maybe even five years from now? What capacity should it have? What products will be palletized? Are we sure that in a year from now the market won’t impose a change in the packing method of the product, and thus in the method of its palletization? What space do we have, for the line? How many employees could be moved to other stations? There are many questions, and anytime we talk to a client, we ask them purposefully, to help them choose the best solution.
We specialize in choosing the optimal products for our partners. Based on our almost 30-years long experience, we suggest solutions verified not only in virtual simulations performed by means of the most modern software, or real life trials and tests of the devices at our research-development laboratory, but most of all over many years of efficient, reliable operation at production plants operating in more than 30 manufacturing industries.
• reduced production costs,
• great accuracy in the job obtained thanks to the perfect repeatability and precision of the robot’s movements,
• a high efficiency, thanks to the high speed of the process,
• easy and quick adjustment to a new production profile (flexible solution),
• improved quality of the product after eliminating the errors that emerge when works are performed by hand,
• the space utilized optimally – the robot is able to work in a very constrained space, often skillfully avoiding structural poles of the hall or ceiling beams,
• replacing people in hard working conditions – the employer is able to move the employees to less dangerous or lighter jobs,
• the ability to move large loads at high speed,
• reliability (owing to the elimination of possible failure prone elements),
• prestige resulting from the automation of the production process.
Currently, two main types of devices intended for palletizing are available on the market: dedicated devices which work based on a number of cooperating drives, the so called palletizers (plate type, gantry type etc.), and industrial robots with a palletizing robot line dedicated for this process . Palletizers are traditional devices, the design of which is usually dedicated solely to palletize a single type of packages. They are usually statically installed at the place of placing products on pallets, without the option of adapting them to a changed product, its size, shape, or weight. The second type are solutions, where the main active element is an industrial robot equipped with a gripper. The structure and software of the robot have been optimized for the palletizing processes. A properly designed gripper is able to palletize products of different types and shapes at the same time, or it may be adapted to this kind of jobs when changing the type of the product being palletized at a later time.
When comparing both solutions, it is not difficult to see the technical advantage of the robot-based lines over the traditional ones in many regards, which, together with a significant reduction in the prices of the robots, results in the fact that nowadays businesses are more willing to choose solutions based on industrial robots than on traditional palletizers.
The grabbing technology chosen: vacuum, magnetic, or mechanical, depends on the type of the product, its size, packaging method, and the general conditions at the manufacturing plant. The material from which the element is made, and the way in which it is packed, are the most important qualities which determine the way of holding. Starting from the first talks with the clients, we initially specify the way in which the product is to be held.
When choosing the grabbing technology, we take into consideration the way in which the item is to be held, so that it is not displaced during the movement, the size of the grab, the type and shape of the holding elements, the holding force, and the type of the drive. Oftentimes, the working space and the manner of placing the load impose specific solutions for the manipulator. When choosing a vacuum gripper, we must consider the dustiness occurring at the production site, and the behavior of the system in the case of a pressure drop or an electrical power supply failure at the vacuum generators – in such situations, the vacuum gripper will drop the load, which may result in its destruction, or a threat to people.
With mechanical grippers, the item being picked up is subjected to a force. If it is too delicate, it could be damaged. Most frequently, mechanical grippers are used in transferring large and heavy items such as, for instance, large cardboard (collective) packages, paper and foil bags with a weight of, for instance. 25 kg, foil-wrapped multipacks (for instance sugar).
If loads being transferred must be placed side by side without gaps, inserted into openings with dimensions similar to their sizes, or removed from such openings, we choose a vacuum gripper. The possibility of using such a gripper depends on the properties of the load’s surface (usually the upper one) by which it is supposed to be held. If the element being moved has a complicated shape, or irregular surface, this method becomes impossible – the suction element cannot be sealed, and the holding force required won’t be obtained. Another obstacle in the use of a vacuum gripper could be the insufficient mechanical strength of the surface being held (for instance the flaps of a heavy cardboard box, which may open during the movement).
Other grabbing options are e.g.:
– electromagnetic grabbers useful for moving loads, ferromagnetic materials (for instance steel sheets),
– grabbers which squeeze the sides of rigid packages (for instance cardboard boxes), and grabbers which squeeze and hold flexible or delicate packages at the bottom (for instance paper bags).
All the robots from FANUC, which we use in our implementations, have a vision system installed. They are “the robot’s eyes”, which may work in 2D or 3D.
Thanks to the software downloaded, the cameras and the lens connected, with the vision system, a robot is able to locate details regardless of their size, shape, or position, read bar codes, and sort details based on the colors, support the process of flexibly feeding parts moving along the production line, and also pick up elements located in a basket or on a pallet. Thanks to that system, the palletizing robot is able to recognize a package, its location, grab a cardboard box or a bag, and correct its arrangement so that to place it in the proper position on the pallet.
The manufacturers who offer modern technological solutions bear huge costs associated with research activities and tests of their products, therefore the initial prices of new products are quite high.
It happens that some companies abandon their investment plans after receiving the final offer from the contractor which presents the precise amount of the costs that they face in the first phase of the project implementation. However, when deciding to make such investments, one should think far ahead about how will this expense affect the production capacity in the long run. Oftentimes, it appears that the investor gains additional benefits, which were completely unexpected when they made the decision to automate their production process.
The cost of automating or robotizing the production process depends on many factors, among others the size of the plant, the production profile, the capacity assumed. It is also very important whether or not it will be necessary to integrate the operation of numerous machines working on the given production line. The costs of such a station are the highest.
From the Design to the Result – this motto inspires experts in the industry.
All the activities related to presenting Wikpol’s offer start from talks with the investor’s representatives and from determining the development needs and the investment possibilities of the enterprise. With the above information, our company can present a bid containing specific solutions and a price proposal. The investor choses the best bidder.
The process of preparing the bid at our company proceeds in 5 stages:
Stage 1: Collecting the data necessary to prepare the bid (interviewing the client, local inspection, discussing the options).
Stage 2: The concept and the initial technical design (a meeting of the technical and sales team, developing the initial concept with a particular focus on the safety norms).
Stage 3: Simulations and tests of the concept adopted (simulating the operation of the robot in the RoboGuide app, tests on the product)
Stage 4: Presentation of the bid. The bid is composed of the technical part (description of the line’s operation, devices’ technical specification, technical requirements), and the commercial part (price list, terms of payment, guarantee and service).
Stage 5: Negotiations, order/contract.
Then, the process of implementing the order comprises of 7 stages:
1. design works,
2. making the prototype (for the grippers of the robots),
3. tests at the research-development laboratory,
4. final product,
5. installation works,
6. start-up at the facility,
7. training for the investor’s employees.
An extremely important factor determining the choice of a palletizing robot is the flexibility of this type of solutions.
In the case of robot-based lines, a change in the parameters of the packages (size, weight, shape) does not involve expensive changes in the design of the devices, which could oftentimes prevent returning to the previous parameters of the product being palletized at a later time. The robot-based lines equipped with properly designed grippers are able to palletize products with different parameters, without the need to make changes in the device’s structure each time. Wikpol has completed lines, where the client may palletize more than a hundred products of different sizes, weights, and arrangement on the pallets without the need to make any changes in the system apart from selecting the type of the product currently being palletized on the operator’s panel.
Enterprises (industries), where it is required to simultaneously palletize products from several production lines on separate pallets will definitely benefit the most from the implementation of the robot-based palletization process.
Wikpol has implemented numerous applications where a single robot handles several packaging lines, and the record holder is even able to simultaneously serve fifteenth packaging lines at fifteenth palletization stations while moving quickly between them. Another palletization field, where flexible robotized solutions are used is palletizing different product packages on a shared pallet unit – the so-called palletization on demand in line with the client’s order. This kind of solution is most common at logistic centres where pallets with different products are packed for one recipient.
In the case of such solutions, the most important is selecting the right industrial robot type (gripper arm’s length, maximum load, proper operation speed), and designing the gripper so that it could grab various kinds of products.
The solutions proposed by Polish companies in no way differ in their quality and resourcefulness from the solutions proposed in other European countries.
Wikpol has all the resources necessary to design, make, install, and hand over for operation even the most complex and extensive robot-based palletization line for practically any type of products. This is confirmed by the fact that we are the only company in Poland which holds the Systemic Partner certificate in the field of robotized packaging and palletizing granted by the world leader in the production of industrial robots and control systems for CNC machines, FANUC Robotics.
We have a perfectly equipped own research and development laboratory and a manufacturing center for grippers mainly for packaging and palletizing processes. We improve our products by applying the world’s newest achievements in material technology, especially to lower the weight of the heads while maintaining other strength parameters. We also cooperate in this regard with technical universities, including the Lublin Technical University.
The contractor of a robot-based packaging and palletizing line should be a company that is experienced in the automation of production processes. The robotization is deemed to be another higher automation level.
Wikpol’s competitive advantage results, first of all, from over 20 years of the company’s experience in automation and robotization. The long cooperation with the global leader in manufacturing industrial robots and control systems for CNC machines – FANUC Robotics has resulted in granting us, as the only company in Poland, the FANUC Robotics Systemic Partner certificate in the scope of robotized packaging and palletizing. Our company has completed more than 200 projects in Poland and abroad (e.g. Lithuania, Ukraine, Moldova, China). We cannot forget how important is a highly qualified staff of specialists in mechatronics. Ensuring the employees’ development and continuously improving their qualifications make it possible for the company to offer innovative systems, according to the market trends in the automation and robotization of production processes.
Wikpol has all the resources necessary to design, make, install, and hand over for operation even the most complex and extensive robot-based palletization line for practically any type of products. We have a perfectly equipped own research and development laboratory and a manufacturing center for grippers mainly for packaging and palletizing processes. We are improving our products by applying the world’s newest achievements in material technology, especially to lower the weight of the heads while maintaining other strength parameters. We cooperate in this regard with the Lublin Technical University.
Wikpol’s mission consist in delivering optimal robotic and automation solutions to the Clients in the field of packaging and palletizing. Therefore our clients can be sure that the solution proposed by us is the best for the task for which it will be made.