Pick and Place Robots Lead to Faster Production Time for Manufacturers


Robotics is leading the way in productivity standards across the manufacturing sector. As manufacturing is faced with increasing challenges, organizations have had to adapt in order to thrive. Industrial robotics technology that has been on the rise for several years now is finally emerging as the future of manufacturing.

Pick and place robots have become particularly popular, largely for their versatility and high return on investment. These robots have a unique capacity for cutting down production time for manufacturers, even when staffing shortages would otherwise diminish productivity. How are pick and place robots being used and why?

Widespread Adoption of Industrial Robots

Robotics has always been eyed for its industrial potential. The productivity gains that robots have to offer are revolutionary for many organizations. In fact, the popularity of industrial robots has taken off to such a degree that an estimated 90% of all robots in use today are in manufacturing facilities.

So, what is behind this widespread adoption in manufacturing? Robots are not to be confused with AI. They have no thinking capacity and are unable to do anything outside of their pre programmed actions. However, this lack of relative computational complexity adds to the overall accessibility of industrial robots, especially pick and place robots.

What Puts Pick and Place Robots Ahead

Often taking the form of a mounted robotic arm with specialized end of arm tooling, pick and place robots have become a staple of modern manufacturing. One of the keys to adoption with any technology is user convenience. Manufacturing has embraced robotics because it makes their production process more efficient and streamlined, despite any necessary setup or purchasing costs. The more versatile a single robotic cell is, the higher its value is, since it can be applied in a variety of ways.

Pick and place robots are especially high-value in manufacturing because they have simple functionality that is highly applicable. Virtually every industry or type of manufacturing has a use for a pick and place robot. From moving units around a production line to packing boxes and even quality control, pick and place robots can be found in countless settings.

Meeting Productivity Goals

The industrial robotics market is expected to grow an astounding $33.8 billion by 2025. It’s no wonder, considering the phenomenal value that manufacturing organizations stand to gain from their investments in industrial robots.

A great example of this in action is Amazon’s implementation of picking and packing robots in its fulfillment centers. The robots are expected to reduce operating costs by over 20% each year, saving the tech giant millions of dollars. This same methodology could be applied to an organization of any size, niche, or scale.

Applying Pick and Place Robots

The first step toward accomplishing faster production times with pick and place robots is finding the right applications within a specific facility. Industry experts point to the “3 Ds of Automation” as a starting point: tasks that are dull, dirty, or dangerous. These types of tasks are the best fit for robots and also happen to be the least appealing jobs for most employees.

High Performance With Consistency

Pick and place robots can do a boring, repetitive job countless times without any performance losses. They are capable of handling fragile items as well as large, heavy ones, as well. Fluid movement is even considered one of the top benefits of pneumatic-powered robots, one variety of pick and place robots. With the right end of arm tooling, a pick and place robot can efficiently handle virtually any item a manufacturer could want.

Dexterity is not the only benefit of pick and place robots. Even if the robot could only match the speed of the fastest employee, the pick and place robot still has a higher return on investment due to accuracy. The robot can perform the same action innumerable times with high accuracy and precision, leading to fewer errors and better quality control. As a result, more units can ship in a shorter period of time.

Quality control is important to mention when considering the productivity of a pick and place robot. Improving production time is about more than doing things quickly. Speed without consistent quality will result in losses over time. Pick and place robots have a unique capacity to turn monotonous, dangerous, or messy jobs into some of the most efficient, high-quality components of the production process. Manufacturers can rely on these robots to deliver the same precision quality in each unit without compromising throughput or efficiency.

Augmenting Employee Skills

Some manufacturing organizations and employees worry that robots will take away job opportunities. While these concerns are certainly valid, the reality is that robotics is a solution to manufacturing’s labor shortage rather than the cause of a hiring shortage. The National Association of Manufacturers estimates that the industry will experience a shortage of 2.1 million employees through the 2020s.

This equates to 2.1 million job openings that will go unfilled while potential candidates move to other career opportunities. Not only are manufacturers struggling to find skilled workers, but they are also struggling to retain them due to a variety of factors. Robotics can help bridge the gap left by unfilled jobs while also allowing employees to focus on more engaging positions, which could lead to higher employee retention rates.

Pick and place robots are particularly fit for filling the labor shortage because they are designed to perform specific, dull tasks. They can simply move objects from one position or place to another repetitively. This would not be a stimulating job for a person to perform, especially as attention wanes due to lack of interest, leading to lower productivity and quality. In addition to higher productivity, robots also improve workplace safety, which may also help increase employee retention rates.

More and more manufacturers are looking into varieties of pick and place robots that are designed to work alongside robots, often called collaborative robots or “cobots”. This variety of industrial robot is purpose-built for one of the core functions of robotics in manufacturing: augmenting employees’ skills. Rather than replacing employees, robots can take over mundane, simple tasks while humans move up to more creative, complex, and engaging work, often bringing out advanced skill sets.

The Future of Manufacturing Today

Manufacturing is a crucial part of the global economy, today and even more so in the future. Keeping up with demand doesn’t need to be a challenge, though. Pick and place robots are making a big difference for many manufacturers, bringing not only faster production times but also cost savings and employee benefits. The future of manufacturing is happening today, with industrial robots helping to vault the industry into a new era of productivity, quality, and innovation.

Article by Emily Newton

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She has over four years experience covering the industrial sector.