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AI in packaging: Defining terms, assessing impact—Part 2

~ Performance Motion Devices

Smart machines are built on smart components. As Performance Motion Devices CEO Chuck Lewin puts it, software-based motor drives are increasingly becoming the norm. They will continuously collect data from the motor and provide output adjustment commands.

From this wealth of measured motor behavior, algorithmic observers can be built that track changes in the motor, which in turn signal problems in the bearings and other mechanisms. Thus, AI will impact packaging equipment through motion drives that control conveyor belts, cappers, web tensioners, sealers and transfer arms that comprise machine mechanics.

AI is also at the heart of rethinking the factory floor. For example, what would a packaging operation look like without conveyors? Denmark-based Mobile Industrial Robots (MIR) recently launched a new MIR 1000, a mobile robot that can deliver 1,000-kilogram (2,200-lb.) payloads throughout a plant. An industry first, according to the company, is AI-enabled capabilities for improved robot use.

“Intelligent mobile robots make the new industrial layout much more flexible,” says Niels Jul Jacobsen, MIR chief science officer. “Replacing fixed conveyors with easy-to-change layouts mean users can train the system to their needs and changing customer demands.”

Where AI comes in, unlike a traditional automated guidance vehicle (AGV), driving behavior and route planning can change via smart cameras that not only recognize obstacles, but together with machine software can predict blocked areas in advance and reroute. In addition, the MIR mobile robots integrate different top modules including pallet lifts, conveyors or cobots for flexible applications where the work can come to the equipment.

AI-enabled mobile robots could inspire operations without fixed conveyors. Image courtesy Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR).

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