IDS: Intelligent Robotic Vision System Destacks up to 800 Objects Per Hour

by | Jul 9, 2024

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RODE, the acronym for RObotic DEpalletiser, is a pioneering product from AWL in the intralogistics market. The robotic solution is able to efficiently process packages randomly arranged on a pallet, setting it apart from conventional systems.

According to the German Parcel and Express Logistics Association (Bundesverband Paket und Expresslogistik e. V.), 4.15 billion courier, express and parcel shipments were sent in Germany alone in 2022. Annual shipment growth to around 4.9 billion is realistic by 2027. Against this backdrop and the generally prevailing shortage of personnel, there is only one solution for shipping and logistics companies to cope with this immense volume of orders: increased automation.

The global robotic integrator AWL offers RODE, an intelligent robotic depalletiser solution. One of the locations where RODE adds value is for DHL eCommerce in Rotterdam. In this machine, two Ensenso 3D cameras from IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH are implemented to provide the required image data.

Application
The intelligent robot-supported depalletiser, therefore, automatically destacks any packaged goods such as cartons, bags or containers from pallets and thus ensures their continuous processing – without delays or downtime. Even “extra shifts” at peak times can be implemented at any time, e.g., to cope with the increased workload during Christmas. This frees up staff for more qualified tasks, such as the subsequent processing of consignments or handling customer inquiries. At the same time, it relieves employees of physically and ergonomically demanding tasks and reduces the risk of injury.

Up to 800 packages in continuous operation
At DHL eCommerce in Rotterdam, RODE processes up to 800 parcels per hour with a maximum weight of 31.5 kg each and places them on the corresponding sorting belt. The particular difficulty here lies in the robot’s picking of parcels of different sizes and weights. It must independently recognize the position of the objects in three-dimensional space and decide which package to pick next. It then has to determine the best gripping position and avoid collision with other parcels or the machine.

“This intelligent robotic solution integrates AI image processing and high-tech gripper technology. The system recognises products and can flip the items to ensure that the required long side is leading,” explains Sander Lensen, R&D Manager at AWL. Two Ensenso X36 3D cameras provide the necessary image data. They are able to provide robust 2D and 3D information on products on a pallet measuring 1200 x 1200 mm and a maximum height of 2400 mm. The integrated image processing system processes this further and enables the depalletiser to identify each individual package and determine the corresponding gripping position – for robust robot-assisted picking.

3D cameras for future-oriented robotics

Each Ensenso X36 3D camera system consists of a projector unit and two GigE cameras with either 1.6 MP or 5 MP CMOS sensors. AWL has opted for the 5 MP variant for its solution. Mounting and adjustment brackets, three lenses as well as sync and patch cables for connecting the cameras to the projector unit are also included in the scope of delivery. The integrated FlexView2 technology ensures an even better spatial resolution as well as a very high robustness of the system with dark or reflective surfaces.

The 3D systems are delivered assembled and pre-calibrated. However, focussing and calibration is also easy to set up using the setup wizard integrated in the software. The latter they have in common with the RODE depalletiser – it is also easy to integrate into its working environment and aims to give its users a competitive edge in the world of logistics automation.

Outlook

“The intralogistics market is a growth market. The number of robot solutions required will increase rapidly in the coming years. The type of products that need to be recognised will change constantly. This will be a challenge for all components and the demands on the camera,” explains Sander Lensen. However, image processing is also developing rapidly. Smart solutions that combine camera technology with artificial intelligence are on the rise. They hold great potential for tackling both increasingly demanding tasks and the worsening shortage of skilled workers. Carton by carton, parcel by parcel, pallet by pallet.

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