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Excel Automation has completed a turnkey construction/design/management contract for a CHEP/UPL pallet-processing facility in Grangemouth, Scotland.

Excel Automation was the principle contractor appointed for the project – from design and build, procurement of new equipment, to installation and commissioning.

Nick Fisher, technical systems manager, CHEP, said: ‘This is the first time we have awarded a turnkey construction design management contract to an equipment supplier for a new plant.

‘Having Excel manage all aspects of the project, including all the different contractors, the equipment being installed, controls and site safety, has worked well for us.’ The total cost of the plant, including equipment outside Excel’s remit, is around GBP2m.

The project started in November 2008, with a very challenging schedule that Nick Fisher admits was tighter than Excel would have liked.

However, Excel maintained the schedule and met the timetable for the plant’s June 2009 start date.

The specification for the plant required Excel’s design and manufacture to be sufficiently robust to withstand the combination of a harsh environment and the high-volume throughput.

Fisher added that everything for the plant has been sourced in the UK and the majority through Excel.

He said: ‘That is good for us, because it makes the project easier to manage and we have local support post-installation.’ Fisher added that Excel’s engineering department had proposed some innovative solutions to what have been traditional pallet handling problems.

‘We are pleased with the outcome, some of the machines Excel has installed are very different to what we are used to; and have proven to work well during the first six months of throughput.’ The Grangemouth plant will run 24 hours per day, inspecting and conditioning around 750 pallets per hour.

The new pallet repair facility at Grangemouth receives stacks of pallets from trailers, which are loaded by forklift truck onto a singulating conveyor for transport to the inspection area.

Every pallet is inspected to ensure the quality standard is maintained and pallets not requiring repair are diverted through a pallet stacker to a painting, drying and stencilling facility, before being reloaded onto transport for despatch.

Pallets that need to be repaired are removed from the conveyor system for maintenance, before being readied for despatch.

Scrap wood is transported on a third tier of the repair conveyor and, via a series of belt conveyors, is delivered to a shredding unit, which chips the timber for recycling into materials such as Chipboard and so on.

Excel Automation

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