Automating Labeling with Industrial Robots

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Labeling is an important process for most manufacturing productions. It may involve applying labels with product names or descriptions onto individual items, time-stamping products, assigning barcodes to pallets or individual products, or applying shipping labels to packages. It is imperative labeling is done efficiently and correctly, however, manual labeling can be extremely error prone and time consuming. Workers may apply the wrong labels to items or packages or cause crooked or crinkled labels. Incorrect labeling can lead to compliance issues or incorrect tracking of items for both shipping and inventory. Labeling products can be meticulous causing workers to spend several hours on applying labels to just a handful of items, creating a bottleneck in operations.

How can Labeling be Automated?

Fortunately for manufacturers, labeling can be automated. There are two options when it comes to automating labeling either through conventional machinery or industrial robots. Conventional labeling machinery is best for mass productions as they are only suitable for high outputs. They also tend to be inflexible as they can only automate one type of labeling application and they can take up a considerable amount of floorspace.

Industrial robots have recently emerged as a more flexible alternative to traditional machinery for labeling automation. Unlike fixed machinery, articulated robots can automate multiple labeling tasks. The FANUC Lr Mate 200ic can be used to apply product labels to individual items and then re-tasked to apply shipping labels to boxes. A single six axis robot can handle multiple labeling projects, allowing users to fully maximize its value.

Industrial robots can automate the actual labeling process, working directly with applying labels to items. They may also be used to tend to labeling machinery. For those who have already invested in traditional machinery for labeling automation it is still possible to implement robotic automation through machine tending robots. The ABB IRB 2600 can place products in front of labeling machines and hold them while labels are applied.

What Industrial Robots can Automate Labeling?

The main types of industrial robots used to automate labeling are articulated and collaborative robots. These robots provide the greatest flexibility for labeling automation. The Yaskawa Motoman MH12 is an articulated robot that is ideal for automating labeling. Collaborative robots like the Universal UR5 can be used to fully automate labeling processes or they can assist workers with applying labels.

Why Automate Labeling with Robots?

Automating labeling with industrial robots will significantly improve the process and make it more efficient. Label quality will improve with the accuracy and control of the robot arm. Label placement will be correct and consistent across all items. Crooked or crinkled labels will be eliminated with robots improving the aesthetic of products.

Robots will also make labeling faster with their speed and higher throughput. Robots can quickly apply labels, processing more products in a shorter amount of time. They can also operate around the clock, further increasing throughput.

Lastly, robots are incredibly versatile providing manufacturers with greater flexibility. Not only can they automate just about any labeling task but they can also be used for other applications such as material handling.

Robots Done Right is the place to start when it comes to used robots. Contact us if you are interested in buying or selling a used robot.