What are Pick & Place Robots?


May 2020

What are pick and place robots?

Pick and place robots are commonly used in modern manufacturing environments. Pick and place automation speeds up the process of picking up parts or items and placing them in other locations. Automating this process helps to increase production rates. These robots handle repetitive tasks while freeing up human workers to focus on more complex work.


How do they work?

Typically mounted on a stable stand, pick and place robots are positioned to reach different areas to perform work. They use advanced vision systems to identify, grasp and move objects from one place to another. With a variety of design options available, these robots can be configured with various end-of-arm tooling options for use in different applications, such as assembly, packaging or bin picking. For example, pick and place robots may be used to pick up items for an order and place them in a box for packaging, or they may be used to pick up parts needed for assembly and move them to the next location.


Types of pick and place robots

  1. Robotic arm – Robotic arms are the most common type of pick and place robots. A 5-axis robotic arm robot can be used for standard pick and place applications where objects are picked up and moved to other locations in a single plane. A 6-axis robotic arm robot is used for more complex applications, such as when objects must be twisted or re-oriented before being placed in another location.
  2. Cartesian – Like a 6-axis robotic arm, Cartesian robots work in multiple planes. These robots move in three orthogonal axes (X, Y and Z) using Cartesian coordinates. They can be constructed with any type of linear actuator and several types of drive mechanisms such as belt, ball or lead screw mechanisms. They typically have better positioning accuracy compared to 6-axis robotic arms.
  3. Delta – Often used in applications where robots pick items in groups and place them in assembly patterns or containers, Delta robots have advanced vision technologies that enable them to distinguish various sizes, shapes and colors. There are several configurations of Delta robots, but most have three arms that operate on four axes. They have heavy motors affixed to a frame, with lightweight arms connected to linking rods with joints at either end of each arm (typically ball joints) to allow movement.
  4. Fast pick – Fast pick and place robots are ideal for use in medium- and high-volume applications with high-velocity SKUs. Fast pick robots fully automate the picking process, freeing up the human workforce to focus on higher-impact activities. These robots can pick up to 300 SKUs per hour from a pool of up to 8 SKUs.
  5. Collaborative – Collaborative robots augment the work of humans by leading associates to pick locations and guiding associates through each task. By optimizing routes in real-time and keeping associates on task, collaborative robots help associates work more efficiently.



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