Intralogistics solutions provider Mecalux SA has announced a new robotic picking system, which is equipped with German technology company and Robotics & Automation exhibitor Siemens‘ Simatic Robot Pick AI vision software.
The software uses deep learning algorithms to streamline picking in warehouses, with artificial intelligence (AI) integrated into the Simatic programmable logic controller (PLC).
According to Mecalux, this enables the collaborative robot (cobot) to autonomously pick orders with high levels of accuracy.
“The technology partnership with Siemens has allowed us to join forces to create a highly flexible, safe, and user-friendly robotic solution that adapts to the specific needs of our clients,” said Javier Carrillo, CEO of Mecalux.
The two companies have a long-standing commercial relationship, with the pair aiming to introduce industrial automation into the logistics industry to address some of its major challenges.
Designed to improve efficiency and dependability, picking robots are used in a critical aspect of warehouse operations: the process of order picking.
Increasingly complex supply chains and heightened demand for e-commerce products means warehouses have needed to adapt to preparing and shipping goods rapidly. Picking robots represent one potential solution to companies looking to improve operational efficiency or meet demand during busy periods.
What’s more, Interact Analysis predicts significant growth in the demand for these machines.
As labour costs rise and the cost of robots fall, the market research firm predicts that there will be more than 150,000 picking robots installed by 2030, with annual shipments increasing from less than 2,000 in 2022 to in excess of 50,000 by the end of the decade.
The picking system was developed at the company’s Barcelona technology centre and can reportedly operate 24 hours a day and complete 1,000 picks per hour.
Both a high-performance autonomous picking robot and a cobot have been launched by the company; the cobot is equipped with a camera above its picking box to capture 3D images of goods.
Once picked, the cobot deposits an item it in the picking box and has been designed to make the most of the available space. Mecalux has also developed an algorithm to ensure that the cobot places the goods in the correct location.
The collaborative picking system can apparently change its grip depending on the type of merchandise being handled, with this function being enabled by Mecalux’s Easy WMS software.
Upon receiving a new box, Siemens’ vision system and AI identify the items inside and determine the most appropriate way to pick each product.
Siemens has said its S7-1500 PLC range is the most powerful hardware that it currently offers and is fitted with a Technology Module-Multifunctional Platform (TM-MFP) to enable it to execute the necessary algorithms.
“The AI algorithm has been pre-trained with millions of items to offer out-of-the-box performance,” added José Ramón Castro, CEO of Siemens Digital Industries in Spain.
“It’s able to make decisions in milliseconds on robust, collision-free picking positions for products presented completely arbitrarily.
“One of the key aspects of this solution is that it doesn’t need to know the 3D model of the item in question beforehand. The advanced artificial intelligence algorithm acts as the brain, enabling the smart picking process.”
Mecalux and Siemens see this collaborative launch as a commitment to delivering technological solutions that improve operational efficiency for their clients.
Siemens will be exhibiting at Stand 702 at Robotics & Automation Exhibition 2024. The latest developments in robotics and automated technologies will be on show at this event, which will be held on 19-20 March 2024 at the NEC Birmingham. Register now to attend the UK’s biggest exhibition dedicated to robotics and automation!