More Efficient Pallet Handling with Automation
03 Apr 2016
Automation Plus has announced their latest offering, an exciting innovation which is set to revolutionise pallet handling: the Pallet Return Device, or PRD for short. This is an impressive piece of kit designed for use within distribution centre pick modules, and it makes handling wooden and plastic pallets alike far safer for members of staff. Improving efficiency alongside health and safety, the Pallet Return Device could herald a growing shift towards the further automation of warehouse operations.
How Does It Work?
Stacking empty pallets for return necessitates either expensive machinery or intensive manual labour, which can lead to injury and unnecessary labour costs. Manually stacked pallets also rarely stack neatly due to their slatted design, creating additional health and safety risks. This is where the PRD comes in.
This piece of equipment simplifies the procedure – the warehouse operative places the pallet down and then pivots it into place using a pivot point provided by the device. This utilises natural gravitational energy to remove the back strain commonly associated with returning pallets. An additional component of the PRD is a shock-absorbing mechanism that guarantees a smooth and easy transition from the load position to the unload position.
In practice, the operative loads pallets on to the carriage horizontally. When the load is fully stacked, the operative releases the carriage, which is guided into the vertical unload position by the shock-absorbing mechanism safely and cleanly. From the unload position, the pallet stack is rolled forwards up to a raised outbound location, releasing the pallets from the carriage for the next cycle. The carriage is then simply moved back along the flow rails into the load position, ready for the next load of empty pallets.
An Entirely New Approach to Pallet Handling
The PRD can handle both new and used plastic pallets, as well as their wooden counterparts of the standardised Euro pallet format, and is set to deliver huge efficiencies to a range of different logistics operations. The device is all the more efficient due to the fact that it doesn’t use any external energy source, relying rather on gravity to assist the physical input of the human operative.
The risk of injury is minimised thanks to the pivot mechanism, which is designed to reduce lower-back strain as a result of manoeuvring bulky pallets into place. The chance of pallets falling from the stack is also removed by the shock-absorbing device, which eases the pallet stack into place in a controlled fashion.
With all of these benefits, adoption of the Pallet Return Device could indicate a shift towards greater automation in the logistics sector. Consumers in today’s market demand higher levels of customer service along with lower prices, forcing wholesalers and retailers to reconfigure their operations to stay ahead of competitors. Automation of the kind embodied by the Pallet Return Device, representing increased safety alongside improved efficiency, is an important part of any strategy seeking to meet cost-reduction targets.