Universal Robotics® has expanded its labor replacement line of Neocortex® Goods to Robot (G2R) Cells. Responding to customer demand for a broader range of reach and load capability, the company has introduced two new pre-engineered sizes to join the first offering.
Neocortex G2R Cells
Built on Universal’s Neocortex artificial intelligence software platform, these cells are designed to replace labor on the supply chain in a one-for-one swap. Pull out the operator and set in the Neocortex G2R Cell without modification to the existing line. It is a complete prefabricated robot workcell that installs in one day. Prices start at $120,000 for a complete cell including installation. Lease options are available. Payback can be less than one year.
The Neocortex G2R Cell targets tasks along the supply chain that, until today, required manual process. The artificial intelligence-controlled robot cell handles extreme variability at speeds exceeding human capability. It is used in both finished goods and manufacturing supply chains. The Cell can pick from bins, fill orders, tend to machines, and handle process flow. In short, wherever a laborer is working in the chain, the Neocortex G2R Cell may be a viable replacement. Its effective cost is $7 an hour for a two-shift operation over 5 years, far lower than fully burdened labor costs.
Universal expands with the formation of a new company, Universal Logic. Universal Logic better reflects the company’s focus on general purpose artificial intelligence solutions. Neocortex machine learning works with more than just robots. It is capable of controlling any actuated machine. The nine-year-old parent company was the first to use 3D industrial vision commercially, the first to demonstrate real-time reactive control of an industrial robot, and the first to synthesize vision, robot actuation, and artificial intelligence for industrial purposes. Universal Robotics remains the system integrator of the organization.
All three Neocortex G2R Cells pick items from bins, totes, conveyors or pallets, and place them into shipping boxes, bags, or machine fixtures. The Cells can read barcodes, identify labels, or take measurements. The medium-sized Cell uses a Yaskawa Motoman six-axis robot, and typically picks 600 – 700 items per hour. The new small Cell increases average robot speed by 15%. The new large Neocortex G2R Cell increases maximum item or box weight to 46 pounds.
Neocortex G2R Family Performance and Price
The Neocortex Small G2R Cell handles 700 – 800 items per hour (peaks to 25 per minute) that weigh up to 15 lbs. The starting price is $120,000 and 5-year lease is $2, 875 per month. The Neocortex Medium G2R Cell handles 600 – 700 items per hour (peaks to 27 per minute) that weigh up to 22 lbs. The starting price is $125,000 and 5-year lease is $2975 per month. The Neocortex Large G2R Cell handles 500 – 600 items per hour (peaks to 22 per minute) that weigh up to 46 lbs.
Prices are for a complete robotic work cell. This includes: a six-axis robot with controller, pendant, multi-function gripper, Neocortex® artificial intelligence software, Spatial Vision® software platform, sensors, safety barriers, PLC interface, HMI screen, frame with forklift slots, electrical and controls panel, onsite installation in North America, operator training, five-year remote diagnostic service with an additional $400/month software warranty, and one-year warranty on all hardware. Optional equipment and custom integration are available.
Experts in airline catering
Universal Robotics® has also launched the first automated beverage replenishment solution for airlines – the Neocortex Airline Beverage Replenishing Cell. It is based on the pre-engineered Neocortex® Goods to Robot (G2R) Cell, using the class-leading Yaskawa Motoman MH12 six-axis robot. It flexibly sorts and replenishes a wide range of in-flight 12-ounce beverage cans returned to an airline catering kitchen. It has less than a one year payback for either a retrofit or new installation.
Airline hub catering kitchens spend a lot of time replenishing beverages consumed in-flight from many of the annual 9.5 million U.S. flights. This requires throwing out already-opened cans, sorting by brand leftover unused beverages, and then packing an assortment of new beverage cans into drawers of a mobile ATLAS trolley for each flight, per each Carrier’s specification.
Neocortex – The Way the Real World Works™
Neocortex artificial intelligence handles inbound returned cans - whether upright, tilted and lying flat. It also determines cans that are opened and partially used, or unused and returned. If the can is unused, Neocortex identifies the brand by directing the robot to pick it up and read its label. It then reuses these cans for the next new drawer it assembles – supplementing with new cans as needed based on the prescribed assortment.
Gopal Vashist, Vice President of NxtGen Robotics, said, “It has been impossible to date to automate this because of the need to differentiate between used and unused cans, as well as its brand. Specifically, it’s been impossible to identify whether it’s a can of Coke® or Diet Coke® in real-world conditions and reuse it at a speed that exceeds manual labor. Neocortex artificial intelligence does this, and opens a whole new world of possibilities.”
Extreme Flexibility – Now and In the Future
The Neocortex Cell replenishes using up to eight distinct brands of beverage. The operator puts incoming drawers on a conveyor, and picks up replenished trays on the outgoing conveyor. In between, the Cell dumps opened cans and sends dirty drawers to be washed. An operator only restocks the gravity-fed shelves with flats of beverages once an hour.
Neocortex’s machine learning does not require programming to handle changes in brands or tray assortments. For instance, when a beverage company creates a new label, Neocortex is assisted by human training. It takes the operator a minute to train Neocortex on the new label. Then is it back to work. This extreme flexibility makes it easy to change, replace or substitute brands on the fly in case of shortages or modifications. The assortment composition can easily be changed via an operating panel.
David Peters, CEO of Universal, commented, “A smart solution for enabling automation in the food industry was not previously possible due to its high variability. This is the fourth proven application area of the Neocortex G2R Cell: airline beverage replenishment, dynamic machine tending, consumer products order fulfillment, and pharmaceutical unit picking.”
There are many other benefits to the Cell beyond cost saving and higher throughput. It reduces repetitive strain injuries in the workplace caused by recurring grasping and rotating. It also enables better just-in-time inventory management because of better product usage information. It automates waste handling by dumping opened cans into the trash. It then automatically sends that same drawer to be washed, systematically improving overall cleanliness of trays. Since turnaround time is reduced, kitchen space is optimized.
The Neocortex Cell provides less than a 12-month payback for a 3-shift operation. It typically fills a prescribed assortment at 30 drawers per hour – saving 25% versus human labor. It includes everything – robot, software, automation, conveyance, racking for beverages, safety barriers, installation, onsite testing & operator training, and ongoing remote diagnostics and software upgrades.
Universal Robotics and Universal Logic
615 366 7281
310 658 1737