Non-uniform automation challenges addressed by Pearson and Plus One Robotics

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End-of-line packaging automation specialist Pearson Packaging Systems and vision software company Plus One Robotics have joined forces to offer simpler solutions for complex packaging challenges.

As robots have become an integral part of manufacturing, and distribution and warehouse automation, the extent of what can be automated often hinges on how well the robot sees and interprets the data. Vision software specialist, Plus One Robotics, uses 3D cameras to identify the three-dimensional geometric surfaces, edges, and corners of products and determines size, shape, height and location in real-time. The integration of machine learning – also often referred to as artificial intelligence (AI) – further boosts the robot’s ability to accurately pick when vision data alone is not entirely conclusive. The third layer of operational excellence is a human-led supervision system called Yonder that closes any remaining performance gaps by enabling a remote robot controller to solve exceptions without delay while training the AI to adapt over time.

For the first application, Pearson Packaging Systems is integrating Plus One Robotics’ PickOne and Yonder software into its depalletising cell to enable handling of mixed or rainbow pallets. Until now, this task could not be addressed efficiently because reflective or newly introduced cases would cause frequent stoppages that required manual intervention resulting in substantial downtime and lack of labour savings. PickOne, on the other hand, scans the pallet layers to determine optimal pick positions. If vision data is inconclusive, the system consults its continuously growing library of AI data. And if neither of those result in a high enough pick confidence, PickOne automatically generates a Yonder request to call in human intervention.

“The partnership is an exciting opportunity to automate increasingly complex tasks with consistency and simplicity for reliable throughput,” said Michael Senske, President & CEO of Pearson Packaging Systems. “Since we are nowhere near replacing humans with the ability to think, reason and learn, supervised autonomy gives us the ability to handle tasks such as sorting random, overlapping or overhanging products or introducing new SKUs without programming in an efficient way.”

AI-Driven vision is particularly beneficial in warehouse, e-commerce fulfilment and distribution centres that handle a multitude of SKUs. Manufacturers offering popular party mixes or variety packs are also increasingly interested in improving their efficiencies with the help of AI and vision-powered automation.

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