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Robotic Palletizing

Palletizing has long been a laboursome, expensive, but necessary function for many manufacturers.

Among all the different types of palletizers, robotic Palletizing is one of the most popular methods for automating the process, between 2014 and 2021 the palletizing robots market grew at a CAGR of 4.5%, anticipated to expand at a further 5% CAGR between 2022-2032.

The market is valued at $1476.8 million in 2022 and expected to reach $2,405.5 million in 2032.

The barrier to entry is getting lower, robot systems are now becoming more affordable, and integrators are significantly reducing the complexity of automation and lowering the risk of implementation.

Robotic palletizers are here to stay, so let’s take a look at them in more detail…

Robotic Palletizing

Robotic Palletizing: How it Works

Robot Palletizing cells can be automated to different levels, though their core functions are the same.

An infeed conveyor will drive products into the cell, locating them at the ‘picking point’ ready for the robot to lift.

The robot will pick products, place them on a pallet in a pre-defined stacking pattern until the pallet is completed.

Completed pallets will either be taken away by pallet conveying or Mobile Robots for further automation, or an operator will collect the pallet and load a fresh one manually.

The Robot

The Robot is at the core of any palletizer cell, the chosen robot will ultimately determine the capabilities of a given system.

Systems are designed around the robot, maximising its capabilities and integrating equipment in a way which enhances its usability in a production scenario.

For example, the RB1200 Palletizer uses a TM12 which has a reach of 1300mm and payload of 12KG.

The RB1200 is therefore a small footprint solution for low-mid range payloads, the cell being designed around the physical capabilities of the robot palletizers.

Palletizer Robot

Cobot Palletizing Software

Though some systems will have bespoke robot programs installed upon installation, others are equipped with software so manufacturers can make changes to their system without the expert robot engineer assistance.

Software is what brings everything together and gives users a point of interaction to make changes to the system.

For example, the RB1200 robot palletizer uses a system called Easy Stack, a custom software platform which enables on-demand production changes to your palletizing cell.

Program new pallets, tweak existing pallets and manage your production with no previous programming experience.

Palletizer Software

Robot Gripper

The Robot Gripper is arguably the second most important component of a palletizer behind the robot. Generally speaking, there are two options, suction or mechanical gripping.

Suction grippers use compressed air or vacuum generators for the robot to pick products from the top using suction cups.

Mechanical grippers use actuators to move and control a series of components and allow the robot to grip a product from the sides or underneath, using pressure or gravity to hold the product rather than suction.

Vacuum grippers are used when products have sealed, uniform tops, mechanical used for products which may have open tops, lids, or any other unsecure top.

Palletizer Grippers
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Applications of Robot Palletizing

Robotic Palletizers have been used for decades, though innovations are making them more accessible and usable for different production scenarios.

Conventional Palletizing Solutions

The most common use of Palletizer Robots is to stacks products at the end of a production line in order to satisfy production outputs, preparing products for warehousing or shipment.

This use of palletising robots has long been a staple in automation, manufacturers benefiting from the consistencies of robots, but also overcoming challenges of labour.

Palletizer Box Stacking

Depalletizing Automation

Depalletizing, sometimes referred to as decanting, is the removal of product from a pallet. Depalletizing occurs for many reasons, though one of the most common being the handling of raw materials which have arrived at the facility for processing.

Fundamentally, depalletizing systems are just palletizers. There are a lot more variables to depalletizing, such as uniformity of the pallet inserted, but many of the robot technologies and equipment remain the same.

Automating the depalletizing process isn’t as tricky as it once was, innovations and new technology have made it possible to deploy robotic systems which are efficient at depalletizing, offering more automation opportunity for palletizing systems.

Palletizing & Depalletizing

Repalletizing with Robotics

Skimming and repalletizing are similar in process to depalletizing, the primary difference being where the robot places the product.

Where depalletizing usually refers to the decanting of material onto a conveyor for further processing, skimming and repalletizing is a process of re-working pallets and product for distribution.

Skimming and repalletizing are commonly found within logistics, for example products are delivered on a Euro Pallet but need to be placed on a CHEP pallet for further UK distribution, or pallets that need to be reduced in height for further distribution and loading.

Skimming & Repalletizing
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Palletizing Add-ons

There are lots of system additions that can be added to complement robot palletising, depending on your requirements.

Slip Sheets & Layer Cards

Slip Sheets and layer cards are commonplace within manufacturing, sometimes critical to pallet strength.

Pallets of delicate product or inadequate stacking strength alone (lots of small boxes or products with a slippery surface) are prime examples.

Slip sheet application can be added to a robot palletizing cell, giving you full palletizing automation, even if you use slip sheets.

Slip Sheets & Layer Cards

Non-conformance means something may have gone wrong with a process resulting in a defective product.

Non-conformance can be built into palletizing cells, allowing you to automatically eject non-conforming products before they get to the palletizing stage.

Palletizer Non-Conformities

Product Flipping

Product flipping is the process of tipping, or flipping, a product over onto a different side. Product flipping happens when a product needs to be presented to the robot in a different way before it can be palletized.

Most commonly, this happens where products need to be packed or taped a different way and then flipped upright before being handled by a robot.

Palletizing Box Tipper

Vision & Product Detection

Vision and product detection is a process of collecting data which is utilised by palletizers and other systems to make decisions on what should happen with a product, how to pick a product, or purely for tracking.

For example, barcode scanners can be used to identify product SKUs as they come down the line, certain SKUs continuing down the line to a different station, and other SKUs being ready for palletization.

Product Identification Smart Camera

Mobile Robots – Pallet Collection & Delivery

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are the next step in automation from palletizing.

Mobile Robot machines allow for automatic pallet collection and delivery, giving you a fully automated end of line process, with pallets being autonomously transported to pallet wrappers or warehouse space by a robot without the need for human intervention.

Mobile Robot Pallet Handling
Tooling Quick Changers

Quick changers allow you to rapidly redeploy your palletizer for use with different products.

Where you may be using a suction gripper for one product, a quick changer would allow you to quickly switch it out for a mechanical gripper, and immediately begin palletizing other products like open top boxes.

Tooling Quick Changer
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Advantages of Robotic Palletising


Robots have a high reliability and far increased uptime when compared to manual handling, increasing your overall output.


Manual palletizing has lots of ergonomic implications with the occurrence of RSIs and other physical related consequences such as fatigue.


Robots can easily be scaled for future proof automation, enabling you to ramp up production without concern for capacity.


Integrate robot systems with upstream processes for seamless communication and automation.

Accuracy and Consistency

Robots are known for their accuracy and consistency, the implications of this in palletizing mean you can produce more reliably, reducing product damage and improving the stacking strength of pallets.


Robot systems can handle more than one type of product, ranging from trays to boxes, bags, bottles and wrapped product.

Interested in Talking to a Reeco Specialist? 

Reeco is a system integrator of automation equipment, specialising in Collaborative Robots (Cobots) & Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). Supplying both SME’s and some of largest blue chip companies throughout the UK, Reeco have designed and installed solutions to suit all types of industries and applications.

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