Demand for print books rose during the pandemic, but supply chain backups have kept publishers from keeping up with that demand. Only about 25% of Americans over 65 read newspapers– and they are the top source of news for just 3% of Americans. Magazines are increasingly being read on tablets, and print advertising continues the slide it’s been in for a decade.
But there is one area of the printing trade that is still keeping servos in work: packaging. Packaging World reports that a high proportion of the record number of robots sold in the first half of 2020 are finding their electronic bliss placing candy in pouches, eggs in cartons, and lunch meat in much-inspected packets.
Servo motors are ideal for packaging not just because of their power but also because of their delicacy. The ability to whip enormous sheets of paper around may not be a major benefit any more, but speed and accuracy are even more important when the job is getting the correct number of pills safely into a bottle.
Sensors are the big news
Being able to fold, pick, place, stack, and crimp at incredible speeds without error or injury is certainly a big deal, but the new servo-powered robots can do more than that.
- New sensors are allowing robots to take over some of the quality assurance tasks humans have been doing. Sensors that can confirm the strength of a vacuum seal or check for pinholes make greater levels of automation safe for food and pharmaceuticals.
- Printing of essential barcodes and RFID labels directly on packaging allows higher levels of automation all through the supply chain — an example of the more sophisticated servos helping out the simpler machinery.
- Maintenance-free motion control components in solid housings can operate safely in washdown environments or in the presence of strong chemicals needed for safe food packing.
With these abilities, the record 2.7 million robots now at work are set to keep printing presses humming in spite of online news and ebooks.
Servos continue to be key for robots, printing presses, packaging machinery — and, chances are, also for the machinery at your facility.
Rexroth has been making servos, drives, and controls for industrial automation for a long time, and we’ve been specializing in their motion control systems for decades.
Any time you need service or support for Rexroth industrial motion control, call us first. We’ll have you back up and running fast.