Automated rim depalletizing

May 3, 2023


AROTEC Automation und Robotik GmbH



Unloading or depalletizing rims from an EWPS pallet is a physically demanding activity for humans. The customer – an automobile manufacturer – was therefore looking for an automation solution that would solve this challenge. AROTEC developed a unique solution – a robotic rim depalletizer.



PhoXi 3D Scanner XL

AROTEC developed a one-of-a-kind automation solution for robot-assisted rim depalletizing – RimDepal.

The robotic rim depalletizer RimDepal consists of two industrial robots – each with a specialized end-of-arm tool, a 3D measuring unit, and a special separation station. 

Final plant installation for automated rim depalletization by Arotec

Picture: Final plant installation

An EWPS composite is conveyed into the robotic cell. As soon as the EWPS composite reaches the depalletizing place, it is detected/captured for the first time by the Photoneo PhoXi 3D Scanner, model XL. 

Based on the sensor data, AROTEC’s software DEPAL@Rim determines the exact pose of the EWPS end frame and calculates the corresponding collision-free robot trajectory. One of the robots picks up the EWPS end frame and places it in a storage place. 

Immediately afterwards, the second robot picks up the plastic layer pad, together with the protective films/fleeces, and puts it into the separation station. 

After separation, the robot sets the layer pad down on a storage place. Next, the EWPS composite is detected/captured again. Based on the sensor data, DEPAL@Rim now determines the poses of the rims and calculates one or more collision-free robot trajectories with which the robot can grab up to two rims simultaneously and transfer them to the conveyor belt. 

This depalletizing sequence repeats until the last rim has been depalletized. Finally, a robot grabs the EWPS end frame and the layer pads and inserts them both into the EWPS base frame. The unit is then transported and strapped with a plastic strap.

According to AROTEC, they are not aware of any similar automation solution that achieves rim depalletizing with the flexibility and performance of AROTEC’s RimDepal solution. 

This is possible thanks to the Photoneo 3D vision sensor, the flexible end effectors/end-of-arm tools, and the separation station, which can process all common intermediate layers (sizes) with film, foam film, and fleeces.

AROTEC’s innovative robotic solution RimDepal can depalletize rims from 14″-24″ in a multiple grip from all common EWPS pallets – even mixed types. The exact position of the rims is precisely determined by the Photoneo PhoXi 3D Scanner XL. Protective films and fleeces are separated from the plastic intermediate layers in a separation station specially developed for this purpose. 



The PhoXi 3D Scanner XL is one of a few 3D vision sensors available on the market with such a large detection range. The sensor copes well even with shiny black rims. In addition, the price-performance ratio of the scanner is very good.

The capture of the EWPS composite: Based on the point cloud/sensor data, AROTEC’s proprietary object recognition software DEPALGO@Rim is able to precisely locate the EWPS end frame, the plastic layer pads, and the rims. 

To AROTEC’s knowledge, this automation solution is the world’s first system that allows a robot to fully automatically destack/depalletize all common EWPS pallets (consisting of an end frame, layer pads with protective films/fleeces, and rims) without any setup. 

After all rims have been depalletized, the layer pads and the EWPS end frame are reinserted into the EWPS base frame. The separation of foils/fleeces is also done automatically in a specially developed separation station.

The robotic solution improves ergonomics and ensures cost-reduction.

The video above shows the plant setup at AROTEC.

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