Automatic de-palletizing is very advantageous to facilities across all kinds of industries. Firstly, all these machines can improve the safety of employees and reduce turnover rates by eliminating the need to manually remove pallets from stacks, which is a repetitive process that can always lead to injury.
Besides that, integrating automated de-palletizing into a conveyor system will help improve speed and also throughput by directly placing a pallet onto the conveyor.
That enhancement can reduce the time that usually it would have taken an employee to pull a certain empty pallet from the stack and then manoeuvre it onto the conveyor manually. That was one of the basic aims of one industry, a consumer goods manufacturer.
These days almost every warehouse and production line use palettenwechsler [English Meaning = pallet changer] and depalletization system.
The challenge faced by the customer
In this case, it was required to turn an inefficient process that was mostly completed by humans into a quick and efficient system.
- In the original process the following steps were involved:
- Placing a stack of flat folded boxes by using a forklift on the end of a certain conveyor
- Next, lifting one of the stack’s sides until all the boxes finally fell onto a gravity conveyor
- Then a manual worker would cut the bands, open the boxes and then push the contents onto the sorting conveyor
- Thereafter all bottles would travel down through the conveyor to the filling line for receiving the product.
The company wanted they should be able to insert the whole load and then tip it down, and then get the empty bottles to move to the filling line almost without any human intervention.
The following solution was offered to them:
This application was a little unique for the team. They have done 90⁰ tippers previously in a certain project in the past that was supposed to palletize the product onto a 90⁰ table and thereafter stand it up onto a pallet.
However, a customer would rarely like a machine to de-palletize the product. Normally, such a situation demands a standalone machine, but the customer wanted the team to expand this tipping and conveying process of the load into a completely automated solution.
The team used quite simple automation here for laying the stack of boxes down and conveying them out of the machine. Thereafter separate the layers onto a certain adjacent conveyor.
Then the operator could open the boxes easily without reaching, stretching, or straining. Also, the area was less disorderly and it was now far easier to dump all the empty bottles onto a sorting conveyor which would feed into the filling area.
With this new process, line speed was significantly improved so were worker ergonomics while allowing workers to focus on more delicate tasks in certain other areas.
The company has very high safety specifications, therefore the team had to add extra protections to meet their standards. A hard guarding was installed, fencing around the line, also light curtains at both entry and exit.
While the product will pass through these curtains without any interruption, if a person ever attempts to enter the area, then the system will automatically shut down to keep them safe.