The world is changing fast and so is the way we do business. Today’s business concerns, such as the drive to expand business across borders, growing demand for exportation and increasing labor costs, are forcing manufacturers to adapt quickly by seeking new ways to secure and sustain their businesses.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT END-OF-ARM TOOLING
End-of-Arm Tooling (usually referred to as EOAT or EOA tooling) refers to the material handling application on a piece of industrial equipment. The EOAT manipulates the product by using different techniques to hold it, depending on the product’s characteristics.
What kind of products does your line handle? Loose bundles? Big cases? Uneven trays? Because of this diversity in packaging, companies can find it difficult to know exactly what solutions best fit their needs. There are, after all, a lot of details to consider when choosing the right EOAT. For example, is the product being handled made of plastic or carton? Or is it polywoven bags? All those products need to be handled in a different way to reach the highest level of efficiency. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t use a magnetic tooling for a polywoven bag, right?
Another factor to consider is the product’s weight: the wrong gripper or type of clamp can damage or ruin your product. Grippers can be designed to fit your production line’s specific needs and can be customized to work with highly unique products.
Your budget also comes in to play, of course. A gripper customized for your production can give you piece of mind and increase your production’s efficiency. This, though, costs more than standard equipment.
Many other factors can influence your choice: Space constraints, configuration, and many more. Keep in mind that EOA tooling is one of the most essential components for an efficient palletizing process. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide that outlines the different types of grippers available on the market. However, be aware that, as products become increasingly diversified, custom end-of-arm tooling is also a good option to consider.
When clamping the product with compression force isn’t possible, a vacuum gripper is a good option. Vacuum grip is very useful when your product is not rigid enough or if you want products to be palletized without any space between them. You can also pick up many types of product with a single gripper, and vacuum grippers deal well with inaccurate positioning. Another bonus: Vacuum grippers are one of the most budget-friendly solutions available on the market.
If you’re considering vacuum grippers, be sure to keep these points in mind, though, too: Vacuum grippers are sensitive to dusty and dirty environments, require compressed air (which adds to your energy costs), and their performance will be affected by the surface texture and porosity of the product.
CLAMP GRIPPER (BUNDLE GRIPPER)
A clamp gripper uses two mechanisms that clamp to the sides of the bag. This kind of end-of-arm tooling works perfectly for slip-top cartons or any heavyweight application where a topside pick is impossible. On the other hand, the clamp gripper requires more maintenance than the vacuum gripper.
The finger gripper is considered a hybrid of the clamp and the fork gripper. It holds the load from the sides but also uses tines that extend under the product. As a result, this gripper holds the product more securely, so it’s useful for more fragile loads that need that extra support. By having the features of the clamp gripper, the finger gripper is quicker and lighter that the fork alone but demands specially designed conveyors.
FORK GRIPPER (LATERAL FINGER GRIPPER)
Do you have open-top containers or oversized bags that must be picked from the bottom? Don’t look any further. Designed to pick product from a roller conveyor, the fork gripper is the most flexible solution available. It’s designed specifically for products that require pick-up from the bottom and works best for bags that do not have a sufficiently flat surface for pick-up.
The magnetic gripper comes into play when the object being handled is made of ferrous material, like cans, for example. It grasps product quickly and allows easy handling of a wide range of product shapes. The magnetic gripper also allows multiple product picking at the same time. In addition, depending on the size of the tooling, you can even grab an entire layer of product.
Some production lines need to avoid the risk of touching and moving packs already positioned. This is where the layer gripper enters the equation: Two servo-driven rollers push against the entire pallet layer from opposite sides, thereby lifting the package up and rolling it onto two symmetrical carrier plates.
Like its name, the pail gripper is used to handle pails by grasping the top of the pails.
The round-shaped gripper works by closing around the product and handling it from the top. This end-of-arm tooling is best suited for drums and other big, round containers.
A servo-controlled gripper controls the movement of the jaws by using electric input from the robot controller. It can control the position of the gripper finder, detecting grip and making it possible to determine if a part has been picked up by the gripper. Because air lines aren’t required, you can save a lot on power and maintenance. It’s also the best solution for a clean environment.
PALLET & SLIP SHEET GRIPPER
These grippers handle pallet and slip sheet. This type of gripper can also be added to another gripper so you have a more complete solution that handles pallet, slip sheet, and product, all with the same tooling. It usually requires a supplier to develop a custom solution built specifically for your needs and your line.
If you have specific needs that aren’t covered by the grippers we’ve just described, then a custom solution may meet those needs the best. There are virtually no limits to what can be built. In fact, we like to say that there are just as many grippers out there as there are products on the market.