Video: AI-enabled item-picking robot speeds fulfillment, is easy to integrate

Artificial intelligence (AI) improves robot performance as explained in a Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023 interview.

By Mark T. Hoske October 10, 2023
Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

 

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the advantages of an integrated robot, artificial intelligence and machine vision package to better enable robotic item picking.
  • See robot integration with flexible motion platforms and how it might be used in applications.

AI-enabled robot insights

  • Integrating a robot, artificial intelligence and a machine vision can more quickly enable robotic item picking.
  • A high-speed picking robot can be integrated with multiple flexible motion platforms for broadening motion-control applications.

Artificial intelligence (AI) improves robotic part-picking performance, said Richard (Rick) Ankney, global account manager, robots and discrete automation, Robotics Business Unit, ABB, in a video interview at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023.

Ankney explains key attributes and advantages of the demonstration, as an ABB robot picks an item, moves it into a barcode identification area, then places it in the correct bin. Conversely, it could fulfill a distribution center order or an industrial assembly kit, moving in the opposite way. Application industries include e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and electronics among others.

Flexibility increases along with ease of use, because new items can be introduced without prior planning.

Richard (Rick) Ankney, global account manager, robots and discrete automation, Robotics Business Unit, ABB, explains advantages of ABB AI-enabled Robotic Item Picker. See related video.

Richard (Rick) Ankney, global account manager, robots and discrete automation, Robotics Business Unit, ABB, explains advantages of ABB AI-enabled Robotic Item Picker. See related video. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Advantages of AI for robotic item picking

Company-provided information about the ABB AI-enabled Robotic Item Picker tells more about how it makes fulfillment and other applications faster and more efficient.

  • Capable of handling a wide range of items in dynamic and unstructured environments

  • ABB vision system enables high-precision picking with more than 99.5% efficiency

  • Easy to integrate, pre-configured package can pick up to 1,400 unsorted items per hour.

ABB Robotics uses AI and vision system to accurately detect and pick items in unstructured environments in warehouses and fulfillment centers. It aims to help with expansion of e-commerce, changing consumer demands and global labor shortages, which require more flexible automated solutions.

The Item Picker determines the optimal grasp points for each item before the suction gripper picks up and places the item into designated bins. The system operates without human supervision or information about the physical attributes of the items it picks.

The package has a robot, suction grippers, and a proprietary machine vision software, integrated to more easily automate complex picking and placing tasks for cuboids, cylinders, pouches, boxes, polybags and blister packs, which otherwise require the dexterity and flexibility of humans.

Suitable for a range of loads and applications, the Robotic Item Picker can be fitted to one of three ABB robots: the IRB1200 (shown in the video and photo), IRB 1300 and IRB 2600. With a payload of up to 3kg and a reach of up to 1.65 m, the Item Picker offers the flexibility required to meet many different needs in order fulfillment and sortation.

Because the systems are pre-configured and tested, the Item Picker reduces engineering effort and accelerates time-to-market by easily integrating into existing automated storage and retrieval solutions, such as shuttle, cubic and 3D storage solutions. Easy-to-use application software seamlessly integrates all parts of the system and interacts with other peripheral equipment, enabling customers and partners to easily add components and other functionalities. A suite of related ABB services include service agreements, online training, preventive maintenance and technical online support.

An ABB IRB 360 Flexpicker is integrated with a B&R AcoposTrak motion control (back) and Acopos 6D Transport Technology (front), which uses magnetic levitation to guide shuttles with integrated permanent magnets over the surface of electromagnetic motor segments. See related video. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

An ABB IRB 360 Flexpicker is integrated with a B&R AcoposTrak motion control (back) and Acopos 6D Transport Technology (front), which uses magnetic levitation to guide shuttles with integrated permanent magnets over the surface of electromagnetic motor segments. See related video. Courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering

Robot integration with flexible motion platforms

Tyler Spoolstra, territory sales manager for Indiana and Michigan, B&R Industrial Automation (a member of the ABB Group), narrates a short video on robotic, machine control and motion control integration. The demonstration shows an ABB IRB 360 Flexpicker integrated with a B&R AcoposTrak motion control (back) and Acopos 6D Transport Technology (front), which uses magnetic levitation to guide shuttles with integrated permanent magnets over the surface of electromagnetic motor segments. The demonstration was in the shared ABB and B&R booth at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2023.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Artificial intelligence, robotics, machine vision, motion control

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Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.