Solving This Dilemma is a Priority for Automation

Bin picking, specifically random bin picking, remains in large part an unsolved challenge for manufacturers and in industrial environments despite remarkable advancements in the last decade in 3D vision systems, robotics, and computing power.

This isn’t to say that the technology improvements haven’t impacted automation processes greatly or even enhanced the ability to execute structured bin picking tasks. Huge leaps in robotics, vision systems, software to implement both, and much more have made structured bin picking a more common process in manufacturing facilities worldwide.

Structured and random bin picking differ greatly. Structured picking is simpler and less expensive to execute. When structured picking, the parts are ordered into predefined locations; they’re aligned the same way, oriented identically, and present a uniform visual appearance for the robotic arm doing the picking. Many companies have already found ways to implement feeding systems to isolate and orient a part for instance.

Random bin picking is a different matter entirely. Here, bulk parts — rods, billets, bolts, nuts, etc. — are moved from a holding area (bin, tote, etc.) to the next stage of production by a robotic device.

The challenge for the robotic picking system is to deliver order out of the chaos in such an environment. Picking randomly positioned parts from a bin and placing them precisely into a machine is a simple task for a human, but fully automating the task with robotics and machine vision has been difficult so far. Robots must be able to grasp parts in an infinite number of orientations and reach deep into the corners of the bin — all while avoiding collisions with the bin, other parts, or the work cell itself.

Random bin picking is further complicated by the existence of complex, asymmetrical, and easily entangled parts, and poor lighting conditions typical to production environments.

Currently, bin picking is fully automatable only with a system integration project, one that requires multiple advanced technologies to work together. These include:

  • A 3D model of the part, the bin, the robot end effector, the placement target location, and any environmental obstacles
  • A 3D sensor or camera to map the bin
  • Bin picking software
  • Robot control software to maneuver the robot, end effector, and part along the route

This integration is the reason why developing fully automated random bin picking has been described as the ‘Holy Grail’ for manufacturing — an idealized end goal that is close but not yet normalized. While random bin picking isn’t yet a reality for many manufacturers, there are ways to improve the process and improve operations for when the inevitable shift arrives.

The Feedall Difference: Unsure about where to start? Visit our Find-A-Feedall page to get suggestions from our expert team about potential solutions.

Bin Picking by Feedall

Since 1946, Feedall Automation has provided the most advanced line of non-vibratory parts feeding systems available. We produce a wide variety of parts feeding solutions and have been an industry-leading industrial automation company for decades. We’re applying this experience to developing solutions for the random bin picking dilemma, approaching the issue from a new side of the equation.

Feedall has developed Smart Bin Technology which, when partnered with the appropriate vision and robotic system, addresses many of the issues facing random bin picking. This patented parts handling technology alleviates many traditional bin picking challenges, including:

  • Long cycle times
  • Speed of vision recognition
  • Robotic collision issues
  • Complete bin emptying

With the introduction of the Smart Bin, we seek to maintain our reputation of leading the industrial part feeding market.

Whether it’s through the use of our Smart Bin Technology or traditional orienting feeder, our team has the expertise to improve your processes with the best fits in equipment, software, and technology for your specific application.

The Feedall Difference: Get a look at our full range of robotic automation tools here.

Work with Feedall

Feedall Automation has the automation solutions to improve the efficiency of your production environment, reduce operating costs, and increase overall output. As experts in industrial automation solutions with more than 75 years of delivering success in multiple markets, we’re the partner your business needs to gain a competitive advantage in today’s challenging world.

At Feedall Automation, we customize every single piece of equipment we offer to our clients’ exact specifications and production goals. It all starts with a proven foundation that our engineers and technicians expand upon to help you meet your goals. You can trust our equipment to stand up to the test of time as it’s all backed up with best-in-class repair, support services, and parts availability.

When you collaborate with Feedall, you’re not working with a partner who contributes one part or system to your manufacturing process. You’re working with a partner that delivers proven part feeding and automation answers that can be integrated throughout your production line. You’ll also be working with a company developing new solutions to prevalent issues in manufacturing, such as random bin picking.

Connect with us today to learn more about our capabilities and how we can help your organization and production facility.