Cobots vs Articulated Robots for Palletizing Automation

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Robotic palletizing has emerged as a viable alternative to traditional palletizing methods of manual labor and fixed machinery. Articulated robots have been used for automating palletizing applications for years. The FANUC M-410ib/300 is an four axis robot specifically designed for palletizing applications. Collaborative robots, or cobots, are still relatively new to robotic automation and even newer to palletizing applications. Many may even be surprised to learn cobots are capable of automating palletizing given their compact design, but they are quickly making a name for themselves when it comes to palletizing automation.

Both cobots and articulated robot manipulators will significantly improve palletizing. They will increase productivity, create a safer work environment, and lower costs as compared to traditional palletizing methods. Each offers their own set of advantages and the one you decide to automate with will depend upon the specifics of your palletizing application.


Cobots are best for automating light palletizing applications. The payload capacity of collaborative handling robots limits the workload they can handle as most have a payload of 20 kg or less with the exception of the FANUC CR-35ia with a payload of 35 kg. Cobots are also ideal for automating low volume palletizing with a high mix of parts.

Cobot Palletizer Advantages:

  • • Quick Setup - Cobots can be setup and programmed within just a few hours. They provide an out of the box automation solution with intuitive hand guidance programming. Simply guiding the arm of the Universal UR10 through the palletizing application programs it. The ease of use for cobots makes them ideal for those new to robotic automation and accessible to more companies.

  • • Quick Changeover - The intuitive programming of cobots allows for quick changeovers when processes change. They can easily automate palletizing with a high mix of parts with minimal downtime between parts.

  • • Space Savings - The compact size of cobots and their barrier-free operation allows them to be easily integrated on production floors while consuming minimal space.

  • • Cost - Cobot palletizers can be more affordable than other robotic palletizers. In general cobots are more affordable because they do not require the purchase of additional safety equipment. The low cost of cobots allows more companies to afford to automate palletizing with robots.

  • • Easily Relocated - Due to the compact size of cobots and their lighter mass they can easily be relocated allowing them to fill in where necessary.

Articulated Robots

Articulated factory robots are best for automating high volume palletizing as well as palletizing that involves heavier workloads. Articulated industrial robotic arms are available in a wider variety of payloads, allowing them to lift heavier objects than cobots. They also operate at faster speeds which is best for those needing high volume palletizing.

Articulated Palletizer Advantages:

  • • Payload - Articulated robotic manipulators are capable of lifting extremely heavy loads of hundreds even thousands of pounds. The FANUC M-410ib/700 is ideal of automating heavy palletizing. Due to their higher payloads, articulated industrial robot arms can lift entire layers of pallets while cobots can only lift items one at a time.

  • • Speed - Articulated handling robots can palletize at rates much faster than cobots with the ability to palletize up to 40 bags per minute. Their fast speeds allow them to automate high volume palletizing.

  • • Reach - Articulated manufacturing robot arms also have longer reaches than cobots. This allows them to utilize space vertically, creating taller stacks.

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