Packaging robots: What to know and where to get one

February 27, 2024
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What is a Packaging robot?

Packaging robots are automated machines designed to assist with product Packaging. They use robotic arms to pick up products, apply labels, fill bags or boxes, seal and tape packages, and more. 

These robots run on predetermined programs that tell them exactly what to do and in what order.

Here’s what you gain from implementing them: 

  • Huge flexibility: Packaging robots are designed for versatility, featuring robotic arms with multiple joints for a wide range of motion. They're programmable for a wide variety of tasks, easily adapting to changes in Packaging needs, and accommodating many products and package types.
  • They’re very fast and productive: With unmatched speed, these robots can manage hundreds of Packaging tasks per minute, dramatically boosting productivity; plus, their ability to operate without tiring guarantees a continuous, consistent performance, crucial for meeting high production demands.
  • They’re extremely accurate: Robots excel in precision so products are picked, oriented, labeled, and placed with near-zero errors. This high degree of accuracy maintains quality, with straight labels, evenly filled boxes, and securely sealed bags, thanks to their controlled, consistent actions.

    This level of accuracy not only enhances the quality of the final product but also significantly reduces waste and rework, contributing to a more sustainable and cost-effective operation.

Another great benefit? They typically provide a great ROI of just 1-3 years. 

How do they work?

Packaging robots use robotic ‘arms’ attached to a stationary base to pick up, move, and pack products. 

The arms are powered by motors and can rotate and extend to reach different areas of the packaging line.

Here’s how they work: 

  • Advanced sensing and dynamic handling: With cutting-edge sensors and vision systems, Packaging robots can identify the size, shape, and position of objects, which enables precise grabbing with various end-effectors like vacuum grippers and suction cups. This adaptability allows them to handle a wide range of materials seamlessly.

  • Intelligent programming and seamless integration: Robots are powered by sophisticated programs that guide their actions to guarantee efficient Pick and Place operations. They can easily be reprogrammed for different tasks and integrated with other automation technologies – creating a highly efficient Packaging line.

    Also, this adaptability extends to accommodating rapid changes in product specifications or Packaging designs, enhancing overall line efficiency.

  • Enhanced efficiency and workplace safety: Automation through Packaging robots not only skyrockets productivity and throughput but also significantly improves safety; they provide a consistent and precise handling solution that cuts down product damage and waste while protecting workers from repetitive strain injuries.

Top use cases for Packaging robots (best to worst)

Packaging robots can handle a variety of tasks on the production line. We’ve listed them here, ranked best to worst: 

  • E-commerce fulfillment: Standing at the pinnacle of robotic Packaging applications, e-commerce fulfillment leverages the full spectrum of robotics capabilities, from handling a diverse array of products to adapting swiftly to changing Packaging demands. 

    The sheer volume and variability of orders in e-commerce
    make robots invaluable for their ability to scale operations efficiently and accurately, reducing errors and increasing throughput, which is absolutely essential in the fast-paced world of online retail.
  • Pharmaceuticals and healthcare: In the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, the stakes for precision, sterility, and compliance are sky-high. Robotic packaging gets its prominent position here by offering unmatched accuracy and the ability to maintain sterile conditions, crucial for patient safety and regulatory adherence. 

    The cost of errors in this field can be extreme
    , which is why the reliability of these robots is a huge asset. 
  • Food and drink packaging: The food and drink industry benefits significantly from robotic Packaging due to the critical importance of hygiene and speed. Robots minimize human contact, reducing contamination risks, and their efficiency is vital for meeting the high turnover rates of perishable goods. 

    The investment in specialized equipment for handling food safely places this use case in the middle
    , but benefits still win over costs. 
  • Fragile item packaging: Robots provide a solution for reducing damage rates when Packaging fragile items, thanks to their precise and gentle handling. 

    However, the challenge of configuring robots to accommodate a wide range of delicate items
    , combined with the potential for high setup costs, makes this application less universally applicable, especially where bespoke Packaging solutions are required – which cost a lot of money. 
  • Limited-run specialty items: At the bottom, the use of robots for Packaging limited-run specialty items represents a niche application. While robotic systems offer extreme precision and can be tailored for unique products, the return on investment diminishes with lower production volumes. 

In cases where the uniqueness of each item demands extensive reprogramming or retooling, the efficiency gains are offset by the initial high costs and ongoing adjustments, making it the least favorable scenario for deploying robotic Packaging technology.

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What should you look for in a Packaging robot?

Not all Packaging robots are created equal, and there are a few features you should look out for before you purchase. 

They are: 

  • Ease of use: Go for robots with user-friendly interfaces that simplify operation, requiring no advanced programming skills; the ability to implement changes quickly through intuitive controls like drag-and-drop significantly reduces setup times and error rates.
  • Flexibility: Choose robots capable of adapting to varying Packaging requirements, including changes in grippers, conveyors, and programming; a bot that can handle diverse package types, sizes, and materials without extensive retooling is more future-proof, which reduces the need for replacements as product lines evolve.
  • Reliability: Prioritize reliability to minimize downtime, which can be costly. Choose robots from reputable manufacturers who are known for durability and dependability, backed by positive customer reviews, robust warranties, and prompt support services. This ensures sustained production with minimal disruptions.
  • Cost: Perform a thorough cost-benefit analysis to balance the initial investment against potential gains in efficiency and productivity. While basic robots may offer a lower entry price and quick ROI, more sophisticated systems could provide greater long-term value through advanced features like vision guidance and custom grippers, despite their higher upfront cost.

Who are the top manufacturers of Packaging robots?

When you’re ready to invest in Packaging robotics, you’ll want to keep in mind systems from reputable companies with a proven track record of success. 

Today, some of the leading manufacturers of Packaging robots include:

Standard Bots

US-based Standard Bots are relatively new entrants to the game, but quickly making waves in Industrial robotics

Their RO1 Collaborative robot (Cobot) is showing its mettle in, unloading, alletizing, pick and place, packaging and sealing.

This robot is customizable, flexible, cost-effective, and backed by powerful state-of-the-art AI. 


FANUC is a Japanese pioneer in robotics and automation, including Packaging solutions. They offer Articulated robots, SCARA robots, and Linear robots for picking, placing, palletizing, and depalletizing. FANUC robots are world-renowned for their reliability, precision, and energy efficiency.

Yaskawa Motoman

Yaskawa, another Japanese company, specializes in robotic automation for manufacturing, including Packaging. They provide a range of Industrial robots for primary and secondary Packaging, including palletizing, case packing, and wrapping. Their robots are praised for speed, performance, and seamless connectivity with production lines.


KUKA is one of the oldest names in robotic automation with over 40 years of industry experience. Their KR AGILUS and KR CYBERTECH robotic series are used for packaging applications such as palletizing, depalletizing, loading and unloading, and pick and place. KUKA's robots have won awards for precision, speed, and their ability to handle complex tasks.

Summing up

You've just scratched the surface of the capabilities of Packaging robots. One thing’s for sure: with automation on your side, you can take your operations to the next level. 

Now, it’s up to you to spend time researching manufacturers and use cases to find the right fit for your shop floor.

Then get ready to sit back and watch your packaging line transform before your eyes!

Next steps

Looking to upgrade your packaging operations? RO1 from Standard Bots is the ultimate solution for businesses of all sizes, from small and medium enterprises to large industrial entities.

  • Affordable: RO1 dominates its category by offering outstanding performance at half the cost of its closest competitors.
  • Power and precision: With a best-in-class payload capacity of 18 kg, RO1 surpasses others in terms of speed and accuracy, making it ideal for Packaging applications.
  • Safe and reliable: With its comprehensive safety features, including advanced sensors and collision detection, RO1 ensures your Packaging line is as safe as possible.

Get in touch with our solutions team for a no-cost, 30-day trial at your facility, which includes expert recommendations for integrating RO1 into your Packaging process seamlessly.

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