Small parcel induction robot

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Kindredis developing an AI-powered robotic system designed to automate the small parcel induction process.

The Induct workcell is meant to help parcel, post, and e-commerce fulfillment companies alleviate capacity shortages and increase efficiency.

Built on Kindred’s proprietary Core/AutoGrasp artificial intelligence platform, the Induct robotic system is a high-speed workcell that identifies items and determines how to handle them. It picks, maneuvers, and places items onto a moving belt, bomb bay, or tilt sorter. The platform combines AI-powered machine vision, grasping, and manipulation algorithms to handle parcels of varying size, fragility, and materials.

“Kindred INDUCT is a highly-intelligent robotic system that modernizes induction processes so customers can meet the breakneck pace of consumer demand for e-commerce shipments,” said Marin Tchakarov, CEO of Kindred.

“The proprietary Kindred Core/AutoGrasp reinforcement learning platform is continuously improving, becoming smarter, faster, and more efficient as it learns from millions of picks across our fleet of deployed robots every day.”

Starting with a cluttered avalanche of parcels, the Induct in-feed system separates items from a chute onto a series of belts, dividing and unstacking pieces into two organized streams. Using adaptive motion control, two synchronized robotic arms pick up each item at the precise speed and grip required for its shape and weight and place it on a free space on the moving sorter. Built-in scanners capture barcodes as items move down the sorter, regardless of orientation.

The system can:

  • Grasp and maneuver items up to four kilograms with a variety of shapes, surface textures, and materials, both rigid packaging and loose plastic;
  • Induct with throughput of 1,600 – 2,000 picks per hour (PPH);
  • Fit within the confines of most induction workstations with a footprint of 2.7 meters by 1.4 metres.

Kindred developed several new algorithms to enable the system to accurately sort, induct, and singulate regardless of the item, dimensions, characteristics, or orientation.

Machine vision, grasping, and manipulation algorithms respond to varying characteristics to ensure each item is suctioned with the right strength, moved at the correct speed, and placed with precision.

A five-sided barcode scanning system captures barcodes on each grasped item while the robotic arm is in motion, maximizing throughput by reducing the need to reorient parcels.

Optimal placement is detected on the sorter using vision systems to monitor both upstream and downstream. The workcell will evaluate whether the item should be placed in a single or double tray, select the next available space, and verify placement accuracy, notifying the scan tunnel of any defects.

Numerous Induct workcells can perform collaboratively along the same fulfillment line for maximum productivity and integrate with many different communication protocols, customizations, and customer and warehouse management systems. Kindred’s integration team can develop customized screens for cycle reporting, performance statistics, and parameter configuration.