Methods for Pallet Load Building - Columbia/Okura

Methods for Pallet Load Building

When your business is looking at building pallets it is important to understand that there are two main load building types, palletizing and unitizing. Palletizing is when product is stacked onto a pallet using a predetermined pattern configuration and a given number of layers. Unitizing carries out the same stacking procedure, but without a pallet. Unitized loads may be stacked onto a slip sheet or directly onto the conveyor.

Both conventional and robotic palletizers can achieve both of the desired load types and are able to create complex patterns to handle a wide variety of package types. However, only robotic palletizers can create overlapping pallet loads and are capable of handling case sizes under 4”.

Robotic palletizers incorporate the use of a pallet using one of the three following methods:

Pallet Dispenser

Incorporating a pallet dispenser to dispense single pallets into the robotic work cell is a great option.
This method will not reduce the product stacking capacity of the robotic arm.

Pallet Pick Up Tool

Adding a tool to the end effector for picking up a pallet from a stack and placing it in the stacking location is useful in some cell configurations and alleviates the need for another machine. Beware though, this method will affect the speed capacity of the robotic system.

Floor Stacking

Stacking product on a single, manually placed pallet on the floor with no automated pallet handling. This method is suitable for very low capacity systems and where a business employs people to manage the production line carefully.

Additionally, robotic palletizers incorporate slip and/or tie sheets to help stabilize the loads. There are two methods used for this:

Sheet Dispenser

Incorporating an independent machine that picks up sheets and places them on the pallet (slip sheet) or within the load between layers (tie sheet). This method does not reduce the speed capacity of the system and allows for minimal human interaction.

Sheet Pickup Tool

Using end effectors mounted vacuum cups the robot can pick up and place sheets on the pallet or within the load. This is a great option if you are using vacuum end effectors and have a cell configuration that can support the space requirement.