Conventional palletizers are becoming almost as flexible as robotic systems.

Conventional palletizers have undergone a technological revolution in the past few years, and today offer a level of flexibility that in many respects rivals robotic palletizing cells.

These systems offer a host of new capabilities and advantages in addition to flexibility, including high throughput, rapid return on investment, 99% uptime and fast changeover and flexibility in terms of pack patterns.

Many customers ask Currie by Brenton how to determine whether a conventional palletizer or a robotic cell is the best option for their application. While every situation is unique, the rule of thumb is the following:

• For lower speed multiple-line palletizing, investigate a robotic cell by calculating throughput, return on investment and available space.

• For moderate- to high-speed lines, consider conventional palletizers first and determine whether the solution offers the flexibility and return on investment to meet the need.

Currie by Brenton advises its customers to consider buying a system that can run more cases per minute than the current need because line speeds tend to go up over time. Based on this forward-looking effort, the application engineer will be able to present best-case scenarios for either a low-level or a high-level palletizer.

These “high” and “low” designations have more to do with physical configuration than line speeds. Low-level conventional palletizers integrate to the case packer with a case infeed located about 40 inches (1.02 meters) above the floor. Plant personnel should be confident that picking up and dropping off pallets will not be an issue at that location in three to five years.

High-level systems are just that: The case infeed is raised 8.3 to 11.7 feet (2.5 to 3.6 meters) above the plant floor. Conveyors move the shipping cases from the case packer and transport them to a warehouse area. This helps to significantly reduce traffic around the packaging line, and it helps keep the area cleaner.

Customers should look for touchscreen menu-driven human-machine interface (HMI), because it improves the ability of the operator to control and change the process. Currie by Brenton, for example, offers customers the ability to program new pack patterns on the HMI. This eliminates the need to use an offline computer or to plug in a notebook computer to the palletizer.

Leading suppliers are also incorporating advanced features as standard for their product lines. This strategy offers economies of scale, a broad list of advantages, and improvements in ease-of-use and safety. It also means faster delivery and startup. To benefit the most from the investment, work with a supplier that has a track record of success, a system that meets or exceeds specifications and the ability to support the system over its lifecycle.

Brenton Engineering