Package Handling Made Easy
By ELIZABETH FUHRMAN
New palletizers speed packaging with more accuracy
From 12-packs to cases,
boxes to squares, and two to 200 SKUs, all
beverage palletizing situations are unique. Material handling solution
providers understand the specific needs of the industry and have created
automatic, robotic and high-speed options for every packaging necessity.
Beverage manufacturers require specific features
depending upon their operations. Large manufacturers with few SKUs will
look for high-speed (200-plus cases per minute), with high efficiency and
little downtime. Additionally, smaller bottlers will focus on flexibility.
For example, craft brewers with relatively high SKU mixes will focus more
on quick changeovers.
“The essential characteristics for palletizing
and depalletizing equipment are robustness, reliability, high precision and
low-cost maintenance,” says Silvio Manzani, Sidel product manager for
palletizing and depalletizing equipment.
The need for flexibility and the possibility to treat
products in bottling lines is moving the industry toward robotic
palletizers. “With robots, we can handle different products, with an
automatic changeover, which results in downtime and personnel cost
reduction,” Manzani says.
Sidel offers a single-column palletizer/depalletizer,
an automated machine with programmable movements to carry out high-speed
palletizing and depalletizing operations. The orientation of the units, the
wide working area and combined operations make the machine flexible and
suitable for several applications. The palletizer/depalletizer offers easy
access on all sides and requires minimum floor space for the main
Its main column is mounted on a motorized rotating
table that is able to precisely orient the machine in the desired
direction. The palletizer/ depalletizer’s lifting arm is based on one
side of the column, and is worked by a system of belts and pulleys equipped
with counterweights. At the end of each arm is a motorized wrist to which the gripper is attached.
Need for speed
In addition to
flexibility, beverage companies can look to robotic palletizing systems for
high speed. FKI Logistex now offers a high-speed robotic palletizing
solution, which uses multiple robotic arms to achieve palletizing rates
higher than those reached by typical robotic palletizers, the company says.
FKI Logistex’s robots use servo wrists to rotate packages for faster,
gentler product handling, it says.
The FKI Logistex high-speed robotic palletizing cell
enables four-way orientation of cases, which is suited for an industry
trend of moving toward smaller packages and full pallet displays in big-box
and club stores. With control of package label positioning, customers can
display the same graphics on all four sides of the pallet, or orient
barcodes to streamline scanning operations.
FKI Logistex’s multiple-robot palletizing cell
also is another alternative to traditional palletizing in facilities where
floor space is at a premium. FKI Logistex designs and manufacturers the
robotic cell components in its high-speed robotic palletizing systems,
which offers a customizable solution to handle a variety of product and
An advantage of some robot
palletizers is smaller footprints. Schneider Packaging Equipment Co.,
Brewerton, N.Y., developed the Robox, a robotic palletizing system. The
line now includes a Robox capable of palletizing two pallets from a single
infeed in a smaller footprint than previously available.
After Robox fills the first pallet, the robotic arm
automatically rotates to the opposite station, loads a second pallet and
notifies the operator to remove the full pallets. The Robox comes
pre-programmed to palletize each SKU pallet configuration. Speeds can reach
15 cases per minute, and can include an auto pallet height verification
option that ensures exact pallet height in each pallet, further protecting
product, the company says.
Schneider’s entry-level palletizing system can
be integrated into a more heavily automated line. For example, by
integrating a discharge system, it can be used with automatically guided
The demand for compact palletizers that also can be
integrated into existing production lines in the entry and medium
performance range is what inspired Germany-based KHS AG to create the
Innopal LH. The Innopal LH is able to process up to 1,500 packs or up to
150 layers per hour, and is capable of processing all types of cartons,
including wrap-around, trays and multi-packs. The Innopal LH also offers an
The row pusher of the Innopal LH acts as a layer
pusher to set up layer formations and palletize simultaneously. The system
uses a lift trolley to supply the pallets individually to the integrated
pallet lift — with a fully automatic option from a pallet magazine.
In addition to a pallet magazine and automatic pallet
supply and removal, the system is equipped with the following integrated
options: a slip-sheet inserter and magazine, as well as a pack-turning
facility installed upstream of the palletizer to create interlocked layer
formations. Additionally, the Innopal LH operates using servo motors, which
provide short cycle times with exact adherence to position accurately, the
ABC Packaging also introduced a high-speed palletizer
with a low-level construction that gives packagers the convenience and
economy of floor-level operation with the performance most often associated
with high-level machines. The palletizer features an automatic grouping
module that allows layer transfer during product accumulation, staging and
stacking layers every 15 seconds. Products are repositioned to any required
orientation during high-speed operation with the servo-operated overhead
ABC Packaging’s palletizer runs cases, trays or
totes. It offers flexibility with changeover to pre-programmed pallet
configurations completed at the intelligent control station, which features
an industrial-grade 8-inch color touchscreen display. The palletizer can
accept product from low-level or high-level infeed to allow easier
installation in existing line layouts. Its compact footprint and modular
design also provides reduced installation costs.