Packaging and its production has come a long way and bright minds are working on innovations that might positively affect the efficiency of packaging production in the future all around the world.
Olympus Controls showed their Universal Robots collaborative arm, combining articulated arm robots with Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR), Comau developed the Mate exoskeleton to support operators by absorbing the weight of packages and reducing the toll repetitive tasks take on the human body. Faster transport time thanks to the Dane Technologies SmartDrive system, a collaboration of X-Pak’s space saving robot-based case erectors with ONExia’s loading, case taber and palletizer robot create a simplified system that has almost no changeover downtime.
Innovators are also working on a smarter support for mechanics and operators: John R. Henry discovered realwear’s “Android tablet in the eye” and is now awaiting the day when “every engineer and maintenance staff with be wearing them”. The device includes a camera, microphone and eyepiece with voice activation and lets its user take pictures or videos on command and send it off.
These all are just a few examples of what the future of packaging production might look like.
Last year ADLINK Technology presented their new artificial intelligence (AI) innovation for the optimization of manual packaging and palletizing. With their new technology hand scanning could be replaced by their AI, Internet of Things (IoT), metadata, WMS and ERP.
ADLink used a setup of dual pallets loaded with boxes observed by AI-enabled machine vision cameras to show off their system. A correctly placed box would be marked green on a large monitor whereas the wrongly loaded packages would appear red for the operator to switch with another one until the whole unit was marked with green indicators only.
The AI can take over the scanning of the packages so the palletizing process can be more efficient since operators could do their job loading the pallets quicker automating the scanning process and tacking away the obstruction of the hand scanning device. ADLink Edge Smart Pallet also ensures scanning accuracy with every package being digitised, reducing product loss especially through mis-scanned boxes or no-scans.
It is not only robots and AI in the future of packaging, the packaging cases themselves are also going through a change: With ecommerce on the rise plants are forced into high mix/low volume (HMLV) which requires a large variety of different case sizes. CMC’s CartonWrap system is an attempt to tackle the issue with custom sized and cut boxes that eliminates the padding material. The cases are highly customizable down to the shipping labels and custom color graphics.
We are excited to see what other innovations might be in the works already.