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Exmac Automation has completed the upgrade of a palletising system for a major logistics company that has reportedly improved flexibility at a multiple packaging facility in Cambridgeshire.

Labour-intensive stacking and packing by hand meant that product and packaging could be accidentally damaged.

As a result, the main objective of the plant upgrade was to make the operation more cost effective and to create a one-touch system that ensured pallets were manually handled as little as possible.

Following a number of layout development phases focused on throughput, available space and financial considerations, the customer accepted a fully automated Exmac system that integrated all palletising, corner-board fitting, stretch-wrapping and delivery-to-despatch functions.

System information

  • Product is now delivered in cartons where three lines feed into a palletisation area comprising two robots, conveyor systems, the corner board machine and a shrink-wrapping machine.
  • The solution features Exmac’s clutched UB500 case conveyor systems to collect product from the packing lines and deliver it, on three Exmac conveyor systems, into a twin-robot cell designed to allow the two robots to palletise the throughput from all three lines.
  • To insert pallets, two separate pallet destackers are installed — one for Chep pallets and one for Euro pallets. These automatically deliver pallets into each zone of the new robot cell and into the existing robot cell.
  • The robots use vacuum grippers able to handle cases in various arrangements, enabling the customer to respond quickly to demands for any product.
  • A trolley system delivers cardboard layer pads for the final palletising stage; outboard suction cups on the robots’ gripper pick a single pad and position it onto the pallet stack.
  • Full pallets leave the robot cells on a series of Exmac chain and roller conveyors and are fed onto the main outfeed line. They are checked to confirm they are fully loaded, with any ‘short’ pallets diverted to a secondary outfeed lane.
  • A barcode reader identifies each pallet’s product type before transferring it by conveyor to a corner-board fit machine.
  • This machine receives information from the barcode reader as to whether the pallet needs corners and the size of corners required.
  • Pallets then await a routing decision on a turntable that will either deliver them into the existing stretch wrapper or re-route them onto a conveyor for delivery to a new stretch wrapper.
  • As they leave the wrapper, the pallets are again identified by the barcode reader to download data for a three-face label applicator and are then despatched to an unload station.
  • Exmac said the key to the success of the new palletisation area was identifying a significant problem with the previous layout during its project review.

Exmac Automation

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