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What We Learnt from The PPMA Total Show 2022

Now that the buzz of the PPMA Total Show has begun to die down, it’s time to take a look back at what we learnt from the event. The PPMA Total Show is the largest processing and packaging machinery exhibition in the UK, so naturally it is an ideal setting to showcase the latest automation solutions – from industrial robots to cobots and AMRs, we saw it all!


What was hottest this year?

The most common demos we noticed whilst walking around were:

1. Palletising.

2. Pick and place (both high speed and precision applications).

3. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).


Palletising solutions promise to free workers from the mundane task of moving boxes from one pallet to another, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks. The focus on efficient allocation of workers by automating simple, repetitive tasks, has become more prevalent due to recent labour shortage issues. So, the abundance of palletising and pick and place demos wasn’t all too surprising.


Similarly, automating logistics operations – moving things around warehouses and factories – with autonomous mobile robots, such as the range of AMRs offered by Mobile Industrial Robots, is another method of optimising workflow, as many mobile robots can work safely alongside humans and can take over monotonous or injury-prone tasks. They were seen transporting pallets of boxes on multiple stands at the PPMA show.



General attitude to robots and cobots?

Robots are an increasingly accepted part of manufacturing in the UK. The discussion is no longer a question of if but of which one – industrial robots or collaborative robots?


Industrial robots can entirely automate a process without human interaction. They are designed to work extremely fast and to a high level of accuracy. It can take a while to get ROI on an industrial robot, so they are suited to production processes that are unlikely to change for a long time. However, industrial robots require safety barriers (guarding) to work in the same room as humans.


Meanwhile, cobots perform a similar range of activities to industrial robots but are smaller and lighter. They have built-in force control and sensors which means they automatically slow or stop their actions when they sense human movement. They are deemed safe to work alongside humans with minimal or no safety fencing.


What do we expect to see in the future?

More cobots! One company had a small robotic arm on their stand flying a toy airplane as a gimmicky demo to tease their new line of cobots, similar to Universal Robots range of 6-Axis Collaborative Robots. As more companies embrace collaboration between humans and robots in manufacturing and warehouse processes, the demand will continue to grow. Furthermore, the ever-expanding range of end-effectors means that the possibilities for potential automated applications are seemingly endless. We look forward to seeing what 2023 brings, as robotic technology continues to evolve and as more people begin to explore the world of automation.