LAS VEGAS — What does packaging have to do with robotics? Turns out, a lot. That was the message from Brent Lindberg, founder of Fuseneo Inc., a packaging innovation and prototyping company. He spoke at the Pack to the Future stage at Pack Expo Las Vegas, held Sept. 27-29.
When it comes to designing packaging for a variety of products, that packaging must interact with robots at fulfillment centers. To be compatible with robotics, the packaging must be something that vision systems can recognize and robots can handle.
“As an industrial and graphic designer myself, I thought I understood robotics and graphics and vision systems. And I’ve been dealing with them for the last 25 years. Turns out I didn’t really understand it,” Mr. Lindberg said. “The past few years we’ve been dealing with really advanced vision systems, but even the best ones have challenges.”
This has implications for many industries as companies turn to robotics in the face of the workforce shortage. Products running through fulfillment centers like Amazon or Walmart must be recognized by robots handling a variety of items. Hard-to-find labels, packaging that is the same color as the conveyor belt and oddly shaped packages all present challenges to these systems.
And the ways in which packages may be delivered by robotics, such as with drones, also impact the way items must be packaged.
“Where it starts to get crazy is when we start talking about drones,” he said. “For deliveries with drones, they have to be 15 feet off the ground and drop the package so it doesn’t touch any people, and it drops the package down on a target. But all the goods inside have to survive from that 15-foot drop. Remember that egg-drop challenge from school? It’s basically like that. We’re dealing with much different constraints when we start talking about some of those things.”