Palletizers and Depalletizers Information

PalletizerPalletizers are machines that place goods and packages onto pallets. Depalletizers remove packages from pallets. Palletizers and depalletizers are frequently custom configured to meet the specific palleting needs of the end user.

Types

Palletizers are designed to handle many types of packages such as:

  • Drum/Keg/Pail — Drums, kegs, and pails are bulk containers for transporting or storing liquid or granular items.
  • Case — Cases are boxes used as shipping or storage containers.
  • Box/Carton — Folded cartons or cardboard boxes are used to hold a product or group of products. Cartons close either by tucking the end flaps of the carton, or by applying adhesive. This type of packaging is used widely with foodstuffs, confectionery items, medicines, cosmetics, sundry goods, etc.    
  • Can — Cans are circular, metal storage containers.    
  • Bag/Pouch — Bags and pouches are holding devices made of paper or plastic. 

Applications

Many palletizing devices are configured to handle more than just one package style. Palletizers are available in a number of different function configurations, differentiated by the manner in which they receive goods to place on a pallet. The three most common configurations are low level, high level and robotic. Low level palletizers are fed at ground level, while high level devices receive the product through a hopper from above. In both cases, the product may be received in a rolling or flowing fashion and continuously transferred to pallets. These types of palletizers are best used in applications where packing and shipping speed is important. However, they may be inadequate in situations where the product being shipped is fragile. In such cases, robotic palletizers should be used. These devices pick up, orient, and place materials onto a pallet one at a time. While slower, they tend to apply less stress to the materials while transferring them to a pallet.

Commercial palletizers are available as fully automatic, semi-automatic, manual devices (conventional) and robotic. These devices are differentiated as follows:

  • Manual — Manual machines aid in the setting or holding of products. Operators are responsible for most controls and activities.  
  • Semi-Automatic — Semi-automatic machines allow a single operator to perform routine activities quickly and accurately. These machines help with both placement and packaging. 
  • Automatic — Automatic machines perform activities without operator intervention. In fully-automatic applications, operator involvement is limited to the replenishment of packaging components. For example, operators load empty bags or cartons onto filling system magazines, load supply hoppers with bulk materials, place empty pallets on palletizer magazines, and remove completed cartons or pallets. 
  • Robotic Automation — A packaging machine with integral robotic operation can be fully automated or semi-automated with some human intervention. Robotic palletizers build a pallet load by picking the product from a feed conveyor and placing it precisely on the pallet. Placement continues in a programmed pattern, layer by layer, until the pallet load is full.

Features

Additional features can be built into a palletizer/depalletizer depending on the industry where the equipment is destined to be used. These features include:

  • Aseptic/Sanitary — Aseptic or sanitary machines are easy to clean and are designed to inhibit the growth or presence of pathogenic microorganisms. 
  • Feeder Included — Machines are equipped with a device that feeds the product or package to its intended process. 
  • Hazardous Location — Machines are designed for use in locations where hazardous situations are expected. These machines include devices that are designed to withstand explosions and exposure to fumes and radiation. 
  • Stainless Steel Construction — Machines are made of stainless steel for corrosion resistance. 

Palletizers and depalletizers are used in almost every industry from food and beverage to shoes and personal care. Any time multiple packaged units of the same weight and shape product are to be bundled on a pallet for shipment or storage, a palletizer can decrease time and expense as well as increase employee safety. When a business decides to automate its palletizing process, there are essentially two choices: robotic or conventional. Robotic palletizers offer several advantages over conventional palletizers:

  • They typically take up less space.
  • They can adapt easily to accommodating different pallet patterns and product types.
  • They can handle up to 2,200 lbs.
  • They can handle many different product types, including cases, bags, pails, bottles, and plastic containers.
  • They can simultaneously handle multiple infeeds.

Conventional palletizers offer several advantages over robotic palletizers:

  • They are easier to troubleshoot, support, and operate without special training.
  • They typically cost less than a robotic palletizer with a single or dual infeed.
  • Up to 15 cases/min for low-level palletizers.
  • Up to 150 cases/min for high-level palletizers.

Current and future business requirements must be carefully weighed when deciding on and specifying a palletizer or depalletizer. Proper selection can translate into notable increases in product shipment speed and throughput.

Related Information

Engineering360—Collaborative Robotics Driving Manufacturing Productivity Gains