ADDE launches Australia’s first automated, collaborative palletising system

Andrew Donald Design Engineering (ADDE) has developed the first end-of-line automated palletising system for Australian standard pallets, which incorporates Universal Robots’ UR10 robot to create a collaborative and flexible palletiser. 

With most packing operations still finishing with an operator loading a carton onto a pallet manually, ADDE saw an industry need to find a solution which could automate one of the most physically demanding and back injury prone tasks on the production line.  

ADDE’s response was to create the Zero Footprint Palletiser (ZFP), which takes no more space than a pallet on the floor and an operator and allows manufacturers to generate greater efficiency and safety across operations, while also enabling employees to work closely in collaboration with the palletiser.

To create the ZFP, ADDE started with a UR10 robot, which can work without safety caging or barriers (subject to a risk assessment) and then added the hardware and software needed to achieve an affordable, minimal footprint and easy-to-deploy solution that can reach an Australian standard pallet.  

“The intuitive nature of the UR10 provided a great starting point for us to build a flexible, easily programmable solution that takes up minimal factory floor space. The ZFP enables workers to continue to perform production line tasks in collaboration with the robot, while relieving factory staff from the risks of the repetitive task of stacking pallets,” said Barry Hendy, managing director at ADDE. 

Manually handled palletising can lead to a number of occupational health and safety (OH&S) issues for both manufacturers and their employees. In fact, body stressing, manual handling and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common cause for workers compensation claims in Australia. Many claims are due to muscular stress created by common packing tasks such as lifting, carrying or putting down crates/boxes.

However, beyond the health issues related to manual handling, there are also a number of financial costs involved.  In fact, according to a 2016 research report from the Institute of Safety, Compensation and Recovery, MSDs accounted for 59.5 per cent of the $61.8 billion that work-related injuries cost the Australian economy in 2012-2013.