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Robust Robotic Palletization Algorithms for Optimized Outbound Pallets

The Symbotic System builds high-density, mixed-SKU pallets — with products pre-sorted for downstream efficiency including aisle or department for easy restocking or route-stop sequence for easy delivery. It does this at a rate of more than 1,300 cases per hour per cell, with full system output in excess of four million cases per week.

Symbotic’s Pallet Build Planner is like a high-speed game of 3-D Tetris. The highly complex A-I software quickly processes an enormous number of options to find the small number of possibilities that conform to all structural and business rules and still make a dense, stable pallet. Then, using sophisticated visualization, the software directs robots with proprietary end of arm tools to place cases in the best orientation and position for the perfect pallet.

At Symbotic we solve complex problems in an integrated, team environment. No matter what aspect of the system you get involved with, you have an opportunity to collaborate with others working on highly interconnected challenges.

Atul Chief Software Architect, Symbotic

This is extremely complex. A pallet regularly includes a diverse range of items, such as cases of crackers, canned soup, and bottled water. There are physical considerations — each case has unique dimensions, weight, centers of balance, and crushability ratings. And there are business rules -–caustic products must be layered below food items. And allergens need to be separated. Additionally, for retailers the system builds pallets according to each store’s planogram – grouping products by aisle or department for easy shelf restocking.

At Symbotic, we work on really practical problems. It goes beyond a proof of concept. We get to see our solutions operate in the real world. And it is satisfying to see our customers clearly benefit from our innovations.

Zoe Advanced Mechanical Engineer, Symbotic

It turns out the best way to create an ultra-tall, stable pallet is to create multiple flat layers throughout the pallet as it is built. This innovative way of building stable pallets is driven by a proprietary A.I.-powered palletization algorithm. The algorithm plans each pallet using a set of complex patterns and rules that allow pairs of robots working in tandem to place cases faster than other palletization solutions, while still creating stable pallets. For example, heavier, more dense cases are used to brace cases with a higher center of gravity.

And the software can replan with equal velocity and agility. If an expected case is missing, the software can adjust on the fly – replanning the rest of the pallet so that it can still be built robotically. It inserts a different case or spreads out the remaining cases to close the gap. The system builds pallets faster than other robotic solutions on the market. Symbotic pallets are typically thirty to fifty percent denser than manually built pallets. This allows more efficient truck loading and transportation cost savings. This also allows downstream operations to be more efficient as well.