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Columbia/Okura Robotic Palletizing Blog

  • Pack Expo East

    by Columbia Okura | Feb 23, 2015


    This past week Columbia/Okura and Columbia Machine’s Palletizing division attended the first annual Pack Expo East in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  This event was sponsored by PMMI (Packaging, Machinery, Manufactures Institute) an association that Columbia Machine is an active member of.  This trade show had over 6,500 attendees and brought in top-tier processing and packaging suppliers together in a location that is convenient for attendees from the Northeast and easily accessible by air from other regions.

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  • Latin American Sales Meeting, Vancouver, WA

    by Columbia Okura | Feb 11, 2015
    This past week Columbia Machine and Columbia/Okura LLC., hosted the Latin American sales groups for a week long sales meeting.  Representation from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Brazil were all present.  The week consisted of training, tours, competitor discussions, and tools were taught and given to better service their territories.  All in all, the week was a huge success and are excited for the new opportunities these reps plan to bring.
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  • Throw Back Thursday

    by Columbia Okura | Jan 15, 2015
    Thought we would share one of our favorite videos...a blast from the of our customers Beck's Hybrid's programmed their robot to shoot hoops!  Who knew our robots have so much talent!  Watch out NBA, they may be picked as part of the first string "picks" for the up and coming draft picks.


    Happy Thursday Everyone!
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  • Highlights from Pack Expo

    by Columbia Okura | Dec 01, 2014

    Packaging and processing professionals gathered in Chicago for PACK EXPO International and Pharma EXPO 2014, the largest packaging and processing trade show in North America. With preliminary figures topping 48,600 attendees, speculators anticipate that this is a 6.5% attendance jump over 2012.

    The four-day event, Nov. 2–5, covered more than 1.2 million net square feet (nsf) of exhibit space in McCormick Place with 2,352 exhibiting companies — an increase of more than 19 percent for exhibiting companies from PACK EXPO International 2012.

    Columbia/Okura co-exhibited with Columbia Machine featuring their A1800v Robotic Palletizer.  This stystem is one of Columbia/Okura's top selling robots. 

    Columbia/Okura’s model A1800v high-speed robotic palletizer was integrated next to the HL7200 discharge conveyor. Using a venturi style vacuum end effector, the robot is tasked with depalletizing the complete pallet stack and returning the cases to the system infeed. The robotic palletizing display also features a pick-and-place orientation to showcase product handling capabilities.

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  • Visit from FIRST Team 2471

    by Columbia Okura | Sep 18, 2014

    FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Team 2471 ( made a return visit to Columbia/Okura to present their “Dr Claw” (Aerial Assist Robot) project. The team, made up of local students from Camas, Washougal and Hockinson high schools in Washington State, provided a live robot demonstration. The team also presented Columbia/Okura with a Thank You plague for its support last season.

    Columbia/Okura continued its support of the team and the programs promotion of robotics education this year through a parts and cash donation. Please join us in congratulating FIRST Robotics Team 2471 for all the great work they have done and in wishing them best of luck for future competitions. 

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  • School Supplies Drive

    by Columbia Okura | Aug 01, 2014
    We're proudly participating in this years KGW School Supply Drive. Every year, KGW partners with local businesses to collect and deliver much needed school supplies to thousands of students in local school districts. Please stop by our main office at 107 Grand Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661 with donations – we’ll be collecting supplies between 8/1 and 8/22. Your donations will help more kids than ever go back to school prepared and ready to succeed!

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  • New Latin America Sales Representation

    by Columbia Okura | Jul 31, 2014

    Columbia/Okura is excited to announce the addition of Julio Rubio as Latin America Sales Director. Julio joins us with an exceptional technical background and over 10 years of experience with packaging and material handling systems. Julio's office is in Mexico City, Mexico. 

    Julio will work in combination with our local representatives throughout Latin America. He will be your primary contact for new projects in this region. Please join us in welcoming Julio to the Columbia/Okura team! 

    To learn more about Columbia/Okura's robotic palletizing solutions in Latin America, visit or contact Julio at

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  • International Powder & Bulk Solids Expo 2014

    by Columbia Okura | May 19, 2014

     Columbia/Okura, LLC recently exhibited at the International Powder & Bulk Solids Expo in Rosemont, Illinois. The show is one of the largest dry processing exhibitions in North America. Columbia/Okura displayed a model A1800 robotic palletizer showcasing its high speed capabilities. The booth also featured Columbia/Okura's expansive offerings of End Effector solutions and services. 

    We would like to thank everyone involved in making this another successful trade show. See you again in 2016!

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  • 2014 Safety BBQ

    by Columbia Okura | Apr 17, 2014

    Today Columbia Machine & Columbia/Okura LLC celebrated a record setting injury free length of time!  For over 6 months, not a single time loss injury has been recorded.  Also, we celebrate 176 days without any recordable injuries.  This perfect record extends back to 2013 and we are positive that we can keep our impressive safety trend going. We honored our employees for their efforts with a catered BBQ by Famous Dave’s Restaurant.  It was a great opportunity to gather as a company and recognize our achievement.  Safety is priority number one for Columbia.  Whether it be in one of our facilities or in a customer’s plant, we strive to create the safest environment we can. Keep up the good work.

    Safety doesn’t happen by accident.

    Safety BBQ

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  • National Robotics Week!

    by Columbia Okura | Apr 08, 2014

    April 5-13th is National Robotics Week. The purpose of this great event is to celebrate the US as a leader in robotic development, educate the public on the positive impacts of robotic technology and to inspire students of all ages to pursue careers in robotics. Visit for more information. 

    Join in the celebration by attending one of the many great events being held throughout the nation. Click here for a complete list of events your area. 

    Happy Robotics Week! 

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  • Go Hawks!

    by Columbia Okura | Jan 31, 2014

    Good luck to the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday in the NFL Super Bowl! 
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  • Okura Flexible Automation Systems celebrates 25 years!

    by Columbia Okura | Jan 20, 2014

    Columbia/Okura congratulates Okura Flexible Automation Systems on 25 years of successful operation as they celebrate their “silver” anniversary in 2014!

    Established in 1989, Okura Flexible Automation Systems Pte Ltd is a subsidiary of Okura Yusoki Co., Ltd of Japan. OFAS specializes in offering its customers in China, ASEAN and the OCEANIA with complete design and implementation services of innovative, cost-effective robotic palletizing and distribution systems.

    Please join us in congratulating OFAS on this great milestone.

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  • Happy Holidays from Columbia/Okura

    by Columbia Okura | Dec 20, 2013

     We'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you for your business and for your continued confidence in Columbia/Okura. 

    From all the members of Columbia/Okura, we wish you and your families a Happy Holiday Season and a safe and prosperous 2014!
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  • Happy Thanksgiving

    by Columbia Okura | Nov 27, 2013

    Happy Thanksgiving from Columbia/Okura

    In this time of Thanksgiving, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our employees, suppliers and customers. We thank you for your hard work, patronage and for allowing us to be of service to you and meeting your palletizing needs.

    We wish you and your families a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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  • Types of Robotic End Effectors (End of Arm Tools)

    by Columbia Okura | Oct 14, 2013

    The infinite variety of end effectors is one attribute that what makes the robot such a versatile solution for palletizing. End effectors can be designed to handle multiple product types with a common tool. A robotic system designed for case palletizing can be transformed into a bag, pail, plastic tote, bundle or other package palletizing system without the need for an end effector change. This versatility gives the robotic palletizer a strong advantage over a conventional palletizer. A robotic system becomes a flexible investment capable of handling today’s packages and is capable of meeting future needs as well. 

    End effectors can employ different methods of product handling. These methods include, but are not limited to, clamp style, fork style, vacuum style and other custom designs. 

    Clamp Style – General purpose mechanical tool capable of handling a wide variety of products by clamping the sides of the package. This tool is capable of picking up and placing multiple packages at once when products are in the same orientation. 

    Fork Style – General purpose mechanical tool suitable for rigid, semi-rigid and non-rigid products that require support from beneath. This tool is capable of picking up and placing multiple packages at once when products are in the same orientation. 

    Finger Style – A mechanical tool that is most commonly used in handling product in bags. 

    Vacuum Style – Uses a vacuum system to pick product from the top. There are two primary types of vacuum heads: A full surface pad or individual vacuum cups arranged in a way to accommodate the needs of the palletizing system. The full surface pad is more universal and the vacuum cup type is more product specific. 

    Custom Design – Custom designed end effectors are the norm for most robotic palletizing integrators.  However, “customized” standard tooling allows for better long term part support.

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  • Columbia/Okura Celebrates National Manufacturing Day

    by Columbia Okura | Oct 04, 2013

    Columbia/Okura joins Columbia Machine, Inc. and the rest of the manufacturing community to celebrate National Manufacturing day.  The nationally celebrated event helps to bring awareness to the positive impact manufacturing has on the US economy and in our local communities. The event also gives people the chance to visit participating facilities and get a firsthand experience of what manufacturing really means.  Visit to find a scheduled event in your area.

    Happy National Manufacturing Day!

    To celebrate the day, all Columbia/Okura and Columbia Machine employees received Thank You gifts for their hard work and dedication to the continuous success of our manufacturing traditions. 
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  • Columbia/Okura sponsors FIRST Robotics Team 2471

    by Columbia Okura | Jul 11, 2013

    FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team 2471 recently visited Columbia/Okura to present their project to a group of Columbia Machine and Columbia/Okura employees. The team, made up of local high school students, will compete in the FIRST Robotic Competition that takes place annually and includes teams for around the world. The competition requires teams to design, build and compete with their robot against other teams to complete a common assigned task (2013 Frisbee throwing challenge). FIRST aims to provide the students with experience in design and programming while promoting teamwork, strategic thinking and “coopertition” (a term created from the alliance-based nature of the competition). In support of the program and its promotion of robotics, Columbia/Okura has become a sponsor and made a donation to help support Team 2471 as they prepare for upcoming 2014 FRC tournament.  

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  • Robotic Palletizer Sales Training for OFAS

    by Columbia Okura | May 23, 2013

    Dick Sampson (Sales Director) and Brian Hutton (President) were recently invited to Okura’s Southeast Asia HQ in Singapore to participate in Robotic Palletizing Sales, Engineering and Integrator training activities. Okura Flexible Automation Systems has a relationship with the local Vocational Institute (ITE), where they have donated an A1600 Gen 3 robot palletizer system for student training. OFAS utilized the ITE venue for a day long training activity designed to exposure their employees, their SEA Integrators, as well as university faculty to the industries and applications where Columbia/Okura have been successful. Dick Sampson was the key note speaker for this activity. Dick’s training was well received and much appreciated by all attendees.

    Group photo at OFAS Robot Palletizing Training Event
    OFAS Training attendees at Okura's Southeast Asia (Singapore) headquarters. 

    Keynote Speaker - Dick Sampson (COLLC Sales Director)Dick Sampson (Columbia/Okura Sales Director) presenting.

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  • Robotic Palletizing Work Cells

    by Columbia Okura | May 01, 2013

    A robotic work cell is the complete set of equipment that has been integrated for a specific task such as palletizing. The flexibility of a robotic palletizing system allows for endless layout possibilities and can include many pieces of peripheral equipment such as conveyors, pallet and sheet dispensers, reject stations, labelers, etc. It is important to consider the configuration of all these items and how each individual piece may affect the overall cycle time when developing a robotic palletizing system.   

    Robotic palletizing work cells (systems) can vary greatly in complexity. Systems can range from a simple single line in-feed, with manually placed pallets, to very complex systems that can manage five in-feed packaging lines, feeding a single palletizer, while stacking products onto five different load building stations simultaneously. 

    Single Line Simple System

    Multiple Line System 

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  • Celebrate National Robotics Week

    by Columbia Okura | Apr 08, 2013

    Columbia/Okura celebrates National Robotics Week
    April 6th-14th, 2013 is National Robotics Week!

    Four years ago, the U.S House of Representatives passed resolution H.RES. 1005 , officially designates the second full week of April as National Robotics Week. This Resolution affirms the growing importance of robotics technology and supports all efforts to increase national awareness of robotic technology and its impact on the future of our nation.

    The main purpose of this week long event is to increase awareness of robotic technology by advocating for increases in funding for research and development and aiming to inspire students of all ages to pursue careers in robotics, science and technology-related fields.

    To celebrate National Robotics Week, events are being held in all 50 States to celebrate and promote robotics development and innovation. Click here to find and participate in an event in your area.

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