Honeywell has introduced an automated robotic solution for unloading a wide range of packages from truck trailers and shipping containers at distribution centers. The robotic unloader can operate fully autonomously inside of a trailer to reduce the manual effort required to operate receiving docks.
The robotic unloader drives into a trailer or container and uses machine vision to identify various package shapes and sizes as well as the optimal approach to unloading. A robotic arm with a series of small suction cups conforms to the package shape to gently extract it from the stack. A conveyor below the arm can serve as a sweeper for packages to move them out of the trailer.
Honeywell will be conducting live demonstrations of the robotic unloader will be on display at the Honeywell Intelligrated booth (7515) at the Automate and ProMat (booth S-618a) in Chicago from April 8-11.
“For distribution center workers, unloading packages is labor-intensive, physically demanding and injury-prone work that is often subject to extreme temperatures. These factors lead to low employee satisfaction and high turnover – as much as 36 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” said Matt Wicks, VP of product development at Honeywell Intelligrated. “With our robotic unloader, we are using advanced machine learning to allow workers to remove themselves from the extreme environment and to oversee multiple unloading machines, increasing productivity and improving safety.”
Honeywell’s robotic unloader is designed to work within existing fleets to eliminate the need for costly configurations or modifications to trailers or standard shipping containers. The unloader features patented gentle mechanisms to minimize package damage without impacting performance.
“In real-world applications, we are unloading a rate of up to 1,500 cases per hour and helping companies maximize throughput safely and efficiently,” said Wicks. “We’re working with Carnegie Mellon University to deploy advanced machine learning to expand the robotic capabilities with improved 3D vision, perception, processing power and gripping.”
Honeywell announced the CMU partnership in October 2018. It also recently partnered with Fetch Robotics to deploy autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) inside warehouses. The initiative enables Honeywell’s customers to increase productivity and boost labor efficiency by deploying Fetch’s AMRs, which use a combination of LiDAR and 3D cameras to navigate unpredictable warehouse environments safely and accurately.