More and more robots are finding a home in packaging production.
Who isn’t enthralled by robots? I have long been a voracious
reader of science fiction especially in my younger days, particularly the
hard-science subgenre that has included legendary names such as Asimov, Clarke
and Heinlein among others. It was Isaac Asimov who crafted the landmark short
story collection, I, Robot, that spelled
out the Three Laws of Robotics and was adapted recently as a movie starring Will
As is inherent with these visionary writers, Asimov and his sci-fi
counterparts were ahead of their time. Now the times seem to be catching up
with the writers’ futuristic vision including in packaging.
There are few systems that are as hypnotic to see in action
at trade shows as robots. These have developed over the years from
attention-getting novelties to nimble pick-and-place demonstrations simulating
real-world conditions done at mind-boggling accuracy and speeds. At a more recent
Pack Expo, mobile robots suitable for particular packaging operations were
programmed to greet and interact with booth visitors. I really did a double
take at that booth as a future shock reaction at how far along the technology
And at Pack Expo Las Vegas last fall, the Motoman booth displayed
a common Microsoft Xbox game system sensor adapted to a robotic cell. The demo highlighted
how common components can be readily and cleverly utilized to help bring down
the potential price tag of such a system.
Robots truly have game for packaging this century.
The booth at a previous Pack Expo iteration had an
android-like “she-bot” seemingly torn from the pages of a sci-fi pulp fiction novel.
But here it was smack dab in the middle of a Pack Expo performing packaging
functions with uncanny consistency.
I have seen robots in operation in the “real world” too,
most recently at an ingredients operation in Kansas where the robots placed
bags to filling spouts with clockwork-like consistency.
I get a kick out of the personalization of robots for
installs where plant personnel give them a name. In this month’s cover feature
on robots in packaging, one robot expert refers to Andy the robotwho(he used that word rather
than the wordit) is
undoubtedly a handy Andy.
Robots truly epitomize the modern mechanization of a
production workhorse with the ability to manipulate products and packages with
inhuman speed, precision and strength. Their inhuman nature is why they are
here-and there-in the first place as a once-novel idea that has become a
To read about Andy and other robots, please read this
month’s cover feature,Robots Revolutionize