What is a Pick and Place Robot?

S. Gonzales

A pick and place robot is a robot that can be programmed to literally pick an object up and place it somewhere. These robots are popular among business owners who require speedy and precise automation applications and material handling systems. They are especially practical in places such as assembly lines, where repetitive and difficult tasks need to be performed with accuracy.

Pick and place robots have many industrial applications.
Pick and place robots have many industrial applications.

A main advantage of using a pick and place robot is that it can get a job done faster than humans. This can lead to an increase in production rates, especially in industries where production is time-sensitive. Using these robots also can pad profits, because they can output more products in less time than a human can.

Bomb-defusing robots usually have "pick and place" capabilities.
Bomb-defusing robots usually have "pick and place" capabilities.

A pick and place robot can be programmed and reprogrammed to complete a variety of functions. It can be programmed to handle multiple sizes of items or even different types of items. In addition, its thin arms, which can reach far, can be flexible enough to accommodate almost any type of product.

Accuracy is another benefit of using these types of robots. They can be specifically programmed, so their results will always be the same. The robots' owners know that they will be as precise as they want them to be.

Pick and place robots are slim by design. This allows business owners who incorporate them into their operations to conserve space that can be assigned to other uses. Some such robots might be able to be programmed to move within specific limits.

Potential pick and place robot owners might want to research a robot's work envelope — the specific area where the robot can reach or move. This likely will determine how the business owner can use the robot. If a business owner desires to change how the robot moves, he might consider purchasing extensions for the robot's arms or changing its orientation.

The safety of pick and place robots might also attract business owners. The robots often perform tasks that can be repetitive and extremely tiring to the average worker, so robots can increase the safety of a working environment. These robots do not become tired, get distracted or require downtime to perform their programmed duties.

Purchasing a pick and place robot might, at first, seem like an expensive investment, but business owners can recoup its cost in the long run. Money can be saved simply because a robot does not waste any material through mistakes. When productivity increases, profits will follow.

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Discussion Comments


Can you tell me advantages of the automated book pick and place robot for library?


Robots are not a replacement for humans, but are just a help to us! Enjoy what we have.


Think of all the boundless things you could create a robot to do, especially around your house! You could probably get all your household chores done in half the time, with no breaks required. I wish I knew how to build and program a robot. Even a pick and place robot would be great around the house, especially in a home with a lot of clutter and constant chaos!

A pick and place robot may help someone overcome a disorder like obsessive compulsive disorder, especially in a hoarding situation. One could program the robot to pick up everything and throw out everything into a large dumpster. The hoarder could keep the robot around until they were not attached to material things anymore. I am sure at first their anxiety would be really high, but as they realized they were fine without the stuff their anxiety would probably go down a lot.


I think that these pick and place robots can be good, as long as they are used in moderation. I think that it would be a good idea to have some robots to help a company to run more smoothly, but only if the other people can keep their jobs are move to a different job. Some people have worked at one job most of their life, have a family to care for, so it would be horrible to take a job a way from someone who desperately needs it and works hard.

I understand that profit is good, but only to an extent. If companies make a profit and do not give their profits to benefit more people, and just keep most or all for themselves, then this is just greedy and wrong. But if the owners of a company use their profits they made off of these robots to help others less fortunate in their company and outside their company, then this could be a great opportunity!


@JessicaLynn - That's a good point. But who's to say that the current factory workers would be qualified to make, maintain, or supervise the robots? Even if using the robots results in new jobs, that doesn't mean the current factory workers will get those jobs.

That being said, I'm all in favor of advancement and new technology. I don't think we should stand in the way of progress because we're afraid of what could happen. Besides, anything that makes a business more profitable and efficient is a good idea in my book!


@sunshined - I don't think pick and place robots will ever fully replace people. Or, if they do, they will create more jobs in the process. Someone has to make the robots after all! Also I'm sure someone would have to supervise the robots and make sure they weren't malfunctioning or anything like that.

Also, if the pick and place robots increase the companies income, they will be able to expand. Expansion means they could hire more people for other positions.

So I don't think this technology will do away with jobs, but it might require some shifting around of people in the company.


Every one of my kids - especially my 2 boys, loved playing with toy robots. They would have been really happy if they had one that would do their chores for them.

I would have liked a pick and place robot just to pick up all the clothes left on the floor. It would have been even better if it knew how to separate the clean ones from the dirty ones.

It is easy to imagine how many tasks a robot in my home or in many companies would be able to do.

If there were thousands of pick and place robots, there would also need to be a lot of people who knew how to repair and fix them if they quit working. I wouldn't know the first thing about being able to fix a robot.


From a business owners perspective I can see how pick and place robots could be very beneficial. Not only can they increase production, but they also do not need to be paid benefits, sick time or vacation time.

I have no idea how much it costs to buy robots like this, but wouldn't think it would take too long to recoup the investment.

I really hope it doesn't come down to robots replacing so many human jobs though. Even though I don't know if I would last very long at a factory job, I am thankful for those who do.

There are too many families who depend on this type of income to be replaced by pick and place robots.


I'm trying to think of instances when I would like to have a pick and place robot in my own home and the only thing I can think of is in my garden.

Imagine this, a small robot that is programmed with every plant you have intentionally planted in your garden. Once or twice a day it roves around on the dirt and identifies any new growth as something you have planted or a weed. It pulls the weeds and discards them and then leaves the rest undisturbed. Maybe there could even be a watering and fertilizing function built in. That would be incredible but I have never heard of anything even remotely like this. I guess it will be another summer of dirty knees for me.


I saw a video recently of a robot that could catch and throw. I was amazed at how well it could catch even awkwardly thrown balls. It was able to pick it out of the air and then hold it in its mechanical hands.

I mention this because this means that in the future pick and place robots can be used to do more than just pick things off the ground or off of a wall. The can pick out things that are moving dynamically through the air.

I'm not sure why but I have an image in my mind of a fish market. You know how they will throw fish long distances and catch them in pieces of butcher paper? Imagine if this was two robots.


A good friend of mine works for a small firm that designs custom industrial robots. For about a year and a half my buddy was working on the programming for a robot that had been requested by the military. It was what I guess you would call a pick and place robot.

Here is what it did. The military apparently uses a ton of frozen premade pancakes. Kind of predictable when you think about it. Well the robot was a mechanical arm with a suction cup on it. It could sense the size and weight of pancakes as they traveled down a conveyor belt and then pick out the most ideal ones. It would grab the pancake and move it to another conveyor.

Here is the really amazing thing though. It could sort 300 pancakes a minute. That's five a second. He showed me a video of this thing in action and it was almost a blur. I remember when I used to goof off in middle school with this guy. Now he is making crazy high tech robots.

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