4 ways robots are used in the packaging industry (2024)

February 27, 2024
Standard Bots robot visualizer

What is a Packing robot?

Packing robots are automated machines that handle product packaging in factories and warehouses. 

These bots pick up products, place them into packages, seal, label, and palletize them for shipping.

One thing’s for sure: Packaging line workers' jobs are easier and more efficient thanks to Packing robots. 

The idea behind Packing robots is to automate physical tasks that are monotonous, hazardous, or plain inefficient for humans to perform – especially on a day-in/day-out basis.

Note that, although they may replace some jobs, for the most part, packing robots make human workers’ lives easier by taking over undesirable busy work

Although, yes, it’s expected that robots will continue taking on more and more tasks in the future. 

How do they work?

Packaging robots actually rely on sophisticated systems to get their job done.

Let’s take a closer look: 

  • The heart of Packaging robots: At the core, Packaging robots are all about their robotic arms and grippers, with a little help from sensors, cameras, and some clever software. These arms are built to move smoothly and reach far and wide, making sure products are picked and placed just right.
  • Getting it just right: It's all about being spot on. With the help of top-notch sensors, crystal-clear cameras, and smart software, Packaging robots know exactly where to go and how gently to handle each product. They're quick thinkers too, figuring out the best way to move around, no matter the package size or pattern.
  • Finding the way: Packaging robots can stick to a set path, but they're also getting smarter, using vision systems to spot products and decide on the best route. From straightforward tasks to more complex maneuvers, these robots are getting better at working alongside humans, making the packaging process smoother.
  • Taking care of the routine: Robots handle the monotonous, boring packaging tasks. They're built for this – doing the repetitive work quickly and reliably (and without complaints), so the human team can focus on the bigger picture. It's all about working smarter, not harder, in the packaging world.

Palletizing with robots in the packaging industry

Robots and palletizing operations are a match made in heaven. 

Palletizing is where many small boxes or packages are stacked onto larger pallets for transport, storage, shipping, and more

Automated palletizing systems use robotic arms fitted with vacuum grippers or mechanical grippers to grab boxes and place them precisely on pallets. 

The robots work at super-fast speeds, so they’re able to palletize far more boxes per hour than human workers. 

Plus, they also eliminate the risk of workplace injuries from repetitive manual palletizing – even The Mountain from Game of Thrones would strain his back from all that work. 

Many types of companies in the packaging industry employ robotic palletizers, from food and drink producers to cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies. 

Robotic case packing for more efficiency

Packing cases are one of the most labor-intensive parts of product packaging. As products move down the line, workers have to manually group items into cases, seal the cases, and move them onto pallets. 

It’s no surprise that this is typically a tiresome, demanding task with low job satisfaction rates. 

But robotic Packaging can change that. Bots can pick up individual units at high speeds and accurately place them into cases, all day, every day. 

Since the robots do the heavy lifting, workers can focus on less physically demanding tasks like quality control, machine operation, and maintenance.

For high-volume operations, robotic case packers are essential for efficiency and throughput. They can pack up to six cases per minute, far outpacing human workers. 

This allows companies to scale up production without needing a proportionate increase in staffing.

Standard Bots routine editor

Automated box sealing and inspection

Robotic arms equipped with advanced vision systems and heat sealers inspect and seal product boxes quickly and accurately.

In a single cycle, they can inspect up to six sides of a box, which no human could ever hope to match. 

These are some of the specific tasks they rock at:  


Robotic heat sealers or box tapers precisely apply tape, glue or heat to securely seal cartons.

They ensure each box is properly sealed to protect the contents inside, while advanced vision guidance systems enable the robots to locate the box edges and seams with high accuracy for an optimized seal. 

Compared to manual box sealing, robots are faster, more consistent and help reduce product damage and spoilage.


After sealing, the boxes undergo automated inspection. 

Vision systems scan each sealed box to check for any flaws or imperfections in the sealing, as well as verify the contents and placement inside the box. 

This helps identify any boxes that may need resealing or repacking before shipment. 

Automated inspection massively improves quality control and ensures only properly sealed and filled boxes continue down the line.

Robotic depanning

When products come off the assembly line, they’re typically packed in pans or trays for transport and storage. 

Depanning involves removing individual products from these pans and repacking or palletizing them for shipping. This is massively repetitive, and thus an amazing fit for Packaging robots. 

As with other forms of packaging in this article, robotic depanning systems use robo arms equipped with grippers or vacuum tools to grasp products and lift them from the pans onto a conveyor belt or directly onto pallets. 

These robots can depan at high speeds with a high degree of accuracy and consistency; for example, a single robot can depan up to 120 cartons per minute.

As with most forms of packaging, this is a massive benefit for human workers who would most likely suffer repetitive strain injuries. 

Some depanning robots are stationary, simply removing items from pans as they pass by on a conveyor. Others are mobile, moving down aisles of stacked pans and depanning each one. 

The specific robot and tooling required depends on the product being handled. 


How much do packaging robots cost?

The cost of packaging robots can vary quite a bit depending on the complexity and capabilities. Smaller, basic robots for simple pick-and-place or loading/unloading tasks typically start around $50,000. More advanced robots with vision systems, grippers, and software for intelligent palletizing or case packing run $75,000 to $250,000 or more. Large industrial robotic arms and systems can cost $200,000 to $500,000. 

While the initial capital cost may be high, many companies see a return on investment in 2-3 years through increased productivity, reduced waste, and lower labor costs.

Do Packaging robots replace human workers?

Packaging robots are often deployed to handle repetitive, physically demanding, or hazardous tasks, freeing up human workers for higher-value jobs. Robots excel at speed, precision and endurance for routine packaging procedures like palletizing, case packing and box sealing. 

However, human workers are still needed to oversee, maintain and program the robots and work alongside them for quality inspections or more dexterous tasks. The goal of most robotics programs is to enhance human labor rather than outright replace it. 

With the growth of robotics in the packaging industry, workers will need to develop skills in robot operation, troubleshooting and maintenance.

How are packaging robots programmed?

Most packaging robots are programmed using teach pendants that allow operators to manually move the robot arm through the desired motions. 

The robot records these movements to learn the correct sequence of motions and positioning. More advanced robots can also be programmed through simulation software on PCs. 

These tools provide a 3D virtual environment for designing, testing and optimizing robot movements before deployment on the production line. 

Programming languages like Robot Operating System (ROS) are also used by some robotics engineers to customize robot operations. Regular reprogramming and updates are often needed to adjust robot movements, speeds and tooling for different products or packaging types.

Summing up

Now, it’s pretty self-explanatory: robots in the packaging industry are making things better, faster, and more efficient. 

For businesses implementing automation, things are looking up.

And, if you want to get in on the action, just remember that whether it's stacking boxes, checking seals, or any other packaging task, there's probably a bot for that!

Next steps

Thinking about stepping up your packaging game? RO1 by Standard Bots has got you covered, whether you're a startup or an established industrial giant. 

  • Economical: RO1 leads the pack by delivering top-notch performance at a fraction of the price of similar models.
  • Strength and accuracy: Boasting an unmatched payload of 18 kg, RO1 outperforms in both speed and precision, making it perfect for any packaging task.
  • Trustworthy and safe: Packed with advanced safety tech like sensors and collision avoidance, RO1 makes your packaging operation safer than ever.

Connect with our team for a free, 30-day trial at your place, complete with personalized advice on how to fit RO1 smoothly into your packaging workflow.

Standard Bots equipment manager
Standard Bots camera vision
Press contacts