Automation Plus, a Division of CSF Incorporated has invented a new way to handle pallets, called the Pallet Return Device (PRD; The PRDis designed to operate in distribution center pick modules and makes handling pallets (wood or plastic) safer and more efficient than current practices without using any outside energy source such as electricity or compressed air.

The PRD incorporates a unique method for stacking empty pallets. Currently, stacking pallets requires expensive machinery or intense manual labor (movements prone to injury). The PRD enables a new method, wherein the operator lifts the pallet over a pivot point thereby creating a mechanical advantage to remove the back strain associated with lifting pallets.

Not only is this a safer device for the operator, it’s also more efficient for the forklift driver. The PRD uses a “carriage” to help guide the empty pallets. This feature produces a perfect stack every time, thereby eliminating the need for the fork truck driver to reshape the stack. Getting on and off fork trucks is a real time waster! Additionally, pallets stacked neatly one atop the other removes the hazard associated with falling pallets. A falling pallet or dropped stack is rare, but when they do fall (particularly from high locations) it can be a serious situation.

A single pallet can weight anywhere from 30-70 pounds. The PRD incorporates a shock absorbing device that provides a smooth transition from the load position to the unload position. In use, the operator loads the carriage. When the carriage is full, the operator simply releases the load, and lets the shock absorbing device safely guide the stack to a vertical (unload) position. Once positioned, the pallets are rolled forward to a raised outbound location which releases the pallets from the carriage. The operator then slides the carriage back, tilts it to the load position, and it’s ready to receive more empty pallets. An operations manager who has spent years in both manufacturing and warehousing said of the PRD, "It's the best 'add-on' in racking that I’ve ever seen."