autopick – The psb picking robot

We have been experiencing a robotics hype in intralogistics in trade magazines and at trade fairs for several years. Most of them are classic six-axis articulated robots, which are looking for their way out of production and into logistics. The goal: fully automatic picking of small parts. The main driver for this development is the lack of manpower.

The great challenge in automatic order picking is not a technical component such as the robot or the gripper, but the design of an economical overall process. Since robots can only handle a part of the articles in a range of products, two parallel flows are generated in the material flow and thus create challenges in terms of material flow, inventories, synchronization and consolidation.

In 2020 we have met this challenge with the development of the autopick. The system, a fully automatic solution for the picking of single items, consists of the core components vision, robot, gripper as well as the IT system of the overall system.

The vision system detects grippable surfaces on the objects in the source totes and calculates gripping points and collision-free paths for the robot. This enables the robot to grip unknown products from bulk material with vacuum cups and to gently place them into the target tote, preferably in the area with the lowest filling level. A teach-in of the individual products is not necessary.

The multifunctional gripper can be individually designed for a wide variety of articles with a wide range of packaging units. Over time, the system learns which of the various grips works best for the respective article.

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The achievable picking performance for a reliable system strongly depends on the properties of the gripping objects and ranges between 300 and 500 parts per hour. In summer, the autopick  test set-up was completed in the psb technology center, where we further develop the system and carry out gripping tests with customer articles.