Rethink Robotics enters partnership with packaging automation company

Rethink Robotics has announced a partnership with Sonoco Alloyd, a unit of global packaging company Sonoco, in which the latter will integrate force-limited, (also known as collaborative robots) into their line of sealing machines in order to provide a complete automation solutions for their customers.

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Rethink Robotics has announced a partnership with Sonoco Alloyd, a unit of global packaging company Sonoco, in which the latter will integrate force-limited, (also known as collaborative robots) into their line of sealing machines in order to provide a complete automation solutions for their customers.

Under the agreement, Rethink Robotics’ Baxter and Sawyer robots will be sold as part of an integrated part transfer and sealing system through Sonoco Alloyd’s salesforce.

Sawyer, which was announced earlier this year and made available this summer, is a single-arm, vision-guided robot designed to execute such tasks as machine tending, circuit board testing, and other automation applications. The robot is equipped with high-resolution force sensors embedded at each joint, along with a power and force-limited compliant arm with series elastic actuators. This allows for compliant motion control and enables Sawyer to "feel" its way into fixtures or machines, even when parts or positions vary. With this feature, Sawyer can work alongside humans without the risk of bodily injury in semi-structured environments.

The robot has a camera in its head to perform applications requiring a wide field of view, and a Cognex smart camera with a built-in light source in its wrist for precision vision applications. The embedded vision system enables the Robot Positioning System for dynamic re-orientation, and over time will support more advanced features that are inherent to the Cognex system, such as barcode scanning and object recognition. Baxter, the previous model, is a dual-armed collaborative robot with three cameras and an infrared sensor that is employed to detect whether a human operator is within a 1.5-15in range of the machine.

"At Sonoco Alloyd, we believe that leveraging the industry’s most advanced collaborative robot technologies, along with our own world-class sealing systems, can provide a unique and complete solution for customers that will deliver real results in a short timeframe," said Jeff Christensen, vice president/general manager of Sonoco Alloyd. "We are constantly listening to our customers and developing new ways to improve the quality of services and solutions we deliver. Rethink Robotics provides a differentiated technology that we have begun to use in our own factories, and we are now able to pass those innovations on to our customers as well."

Scott Eckert, president and CEO at Rethink Robotics offered his thoughts. "As an innovator in its space, Sonoco Alloyd is at the forefront of providing what today’s global manufacturers need to be successful," he said. "Sonoco Alloyd understands that collaborative robots are a big part of the future of manufacturing, and they can offer additional value to the reliable automation they’re already providing to their customers. The combination of these two great product lines is a huge competitive advantage for manufacturers everywhere."

View the press release.

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