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Sustainable palletizing: Industry experts talk robotics, automation and durability advancements

#Sustainable palletizing: Industry experts talk robotics, automation and durability advancements

08 Nov 2023 — The pallet and palletizing industries are undergoing continuous development to reduce the environmental footprint of packaging supply chains. 

The topic plays an increasingly important role at robot manufacturer Fanuc. “That is why we are constantly driving forward the energy efficiency of our robots. For example, we offer energy recovery functions, that is, when the robot slows down, energy is recovered,” explains Michael Schuepbach, sales coordinator for Food Market at Fanuc Europe. 

“In addition, our special M-410 series of palletizing robots has been developed with the lightest possible design and parallel kinematics to save energy and make palletizing work as efficient as possible.”

Fanuc was the “first” robot manufacturer to build special palletizing robots. Today, the company offers a wide range of palletizing robots that can handle from 110 kg up to 700 kg. 

Box palletizing with robot.Box palletizing with the M-410 series (Image credit: Fanuc).

“These 4-axis palletizing robots have been specially developed for precision and high-speed handling. In addition, all of our six-axis robots can be easily configured as palletizing robots. Fanuc also offers a wide range of collaborative robots that can work flexibly in tight spaces with a small footprint,” asserts Schuepbach.

“Our robots can palletize payloads from 5 kg up to 2300 kg, which is the payload of our strongest robot. Fanuc offers the widest range of palletising robots on the market. The most requested payload for a palletizing solution is somewhere in the middle.”

Fanuc robots also offer a range of software options and accessories, such as 3D cameras to detect packages, boxes and bags of different sizes for depalletizing applications. 

Product durability 
Another aspect of sustainability in production is the “small footprint” of Fanuc’s robots, which the company says enables its customers to save production space. “The workspace can be further reduced using our specially developed dual check safety software,” highlights Schuepbach.

Fanuc places particular emphasis on product durability. “It is well known in the market that our robots work for 25 years and longer and that Fanuc offers a lifetime service and spare parts for decades.”

“As far as the range of palletizable packaging is concerned, the only limitation we can think of is the capability of the gripper. So far, we have never seen a palletizing application that could not be automated with our robots,” notes Schuepbach.

Meanwhile, Tosca, a global leader in reusable plastic packaging and performance pooling solutions, has released a report highlighting the hidden costs of pallet ownership. The report aims to identify the financial implications of pallet usage and provide strategies for businesses to reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO) sustainably. Pallet wash site.Tosca’s pallet wash site (Image credit: Tosca).

Tosca is a reusable plastic packaging and performance pooling solutions company built for customers to eliminate food, labor and transportation waste and improve performance at every turn.

“Our portfolio of pooled, Internet of Things-enabled reusable plastic assets is the most robust the market has to offer, including pallets, bulk containers and crates,” Erik Marinissen, Tosca’s sales director for DACH and Benelux, tells Packaging Insights

“With our expansive wash network and a unique capability to develop customized solutions through in-house R&D and manufacturing, Tosca is the provider of choice for leading ingredient and packaging companies supplying food and non-food manufacturers and processors across the globe.”

Displaying pallet costs
Pallets are a critical component of the global supply chain. However, their associated costs extend beyond the initial purchase price. Maintenance, storage, disposal and the environmental impact can significantly inflate the TCO. Tosca’s report dives into these hidden costs and reveals how businesses can efficiently manage and mitigate them using innovative supply chain solutions. 

Pallets on machine.Tosca has released a report to make customers aware of pallets’ associated costs beyond the purchase price (Image credit: Tosca).“Our goal with this report is to bring to light the true cost of pallet ownership that many businesses overlook,” says Marinissen. “By identifying these hidden costs, we can proactively help businesses make more informed decisions about their supply chain operations and encourage a move toward more [environmentally] sustainable practices.”

Tosca’s solution comes in the form of pooled reusable plastic pallets. “These pallets reduce the TCO by eliminating many costs associated with owning or renting pallets and offer significant sustainability benefits. They are designed for longer lifespans, require less maintenance, and at the end of their life, they can be fully recycled, therefore minimizing waste,” asserts Marinissen.

Moreover, Tosca’s reusable pallets contribute to a circular economy, promoting resource efficiency and waste reduction. By choosing Tosca’s solutions, the company concludes that businesses can achieve cost savings and environmental sustainability goals. 

By Natalie Schwertheim

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