Automatic palletizers create unitized loads with precision without the need for manual labor. They are available in many different configurations and can improve your productivity when it comes to preparing large amounts of products for shipment or storage. When you begin looking into automatic palletizing, you might feel overwhelmed. That’s why we’re sharing what you need to know beforehand, so you can be prepared to answer the right questions and find exactly what you need.

What is Automated Palletizing?

Before you can decide if automatic palletizing is the next step for your company, you need to know what it is. Automatic palletizing is the use of machines or robots to stack and arrange boxes or other packaging containers into a single unit for transport. These machines are convenient for warehouses, distributors, and manufacturers who work with multiple pallet loads every day.

While automatic palletizers are sure to provide major benefits for your packaging operations, they will be an expensive piece of equipment that takes up a lot of space. It’s important to do a full analysis of the costs and benefits to ensure you’ll be getting a good return on your investment.

Types of Automated Palletizing

Automatic palletizers come in a lot of different configurations depending on your application, but the majority of them will start with either a conventional set-up or a robotic set-up.

A low-level conventional palletizer aligns boxes or containers in rows by pushing them into place against a stopping point until the row is completed. The rows move onto a layering table, which then drops them carefully onto a pallet for the load arrangement. There’s also a high-level palletizer that works similarity, but instead of raising and lowering the different layers to build a pallet, the pallet itself is moved to help build the layers. A high-level palletizer can handle faster production speeds compared to a low-level palletizer.

A robotic palletizer involves a computer-operated, electro-mechanical machine that can perform various tasks on its own. The robotic palletizer usually includes some type of arm that grabs products off a conveyor and starts forming layers for the unitized load. Robotic palletizers generally take up less space compared to conventional palletizers, and they can sometimes be less expensive depending on your application. A robotic palletizer has the ability to work on multiple types of Skus and pallet designs, whereas a conventional palletizer is often limited to a specific type of pallet design.

Benefits of Automatic Palletizing

Automatic palletizing allows you to bundle more products together in a single day at speeds that manual labor simply cannot compete with. This improves your operating efficiency and reduces the number of workers you need on the floor. It also limits worker injury by taking some of the heavy-lifting responsibilities off your employees and putting it on the machine. These benefits help you optimize your operating efficiency while increasing your production output of sturdy pallets that are ready for storage or shipping.

Challenges of Automatic Palletizing

While automatic palletizing presents some major advantages over manual labor, it can be quite expensive to get the initial equipment you need. The total savings you experience in time and labor should be weighed against the cost of your automated system before making a final decision. That way you can clearly see how you will experience a return on your investment and how many months it will take to balance out your budget.

You’ll also want to factor in any downtime it might take to repair your automated system, as well as the cost of maintenance and repairs. 

While these machines can run at incredible speeds without stopping, eventually you will need to provide some upkeep to ensure everything continues to run smoothly. You may want to keep a small area prepared for manual palletizing in case your machine is down for maintenance.

The final consideration is the amount of space you’ll need to set-up and install your new automated palletizing equipment. Conventional systems can take up quite a bit of space, and if you need higher-level systems, you need to provide plenty of head space for clearance. A robotic system can often require less space than a conventional one, so you may be able to use one of those if your space is more limited.

Hopefully, you feel prepared to start discussing your options when it comes to automatic palletizing. There are plenty of machines available with different configurations to suit multiple types of applications. Whether you need a conventional set-up or a robotic set-up, you can be sure that automated equipment will help increase your productivity and your number of pallet loads produced per day.