Move one box at a time or up to a single hundred? Pallets were largely accepted to be one of both greatest material handling innovations of the Twentieth Century, combined with the barcode. Although the use of pallets along with the palletization of materials was once considered to be a powerful element of materials handling strategy, today, industry takes the practice largely for granted.
What Is Palletization?
Palletization refers to the process of inserting goods or materials, either packaged or bulk, onto pallets. The pallet provides a base for the goods and materials, thereby promoting the efficient storage, handling and transport for the combo of goods and the pallet base, referred to collectively as the machine load.
In fact, in the effort to continually improve supply chain operations, pallets are occasionally looked at as a technology to be avoided, in an effort to eliminate their cost, their weight, or their cube (the area that they require in transport and storage.) Which trend is still explored, although it is not new, as is witnessed from the above magazine ad from the 1950s which promoted palletless handling.
When the pallets in southampton concept was first introduced, however, it had a dramatic impact on the improvement of material handling efficiency. Rail cars that had taken two days to unload could subsequently be unloaded in just 1 or 2 hours. You can read more about the history of pallets.
Crucial Benefits of Palletization
Europool System crates being palletized manually. Source: www.europoolsystem.com.
Then as now, the use of pallets as a base for unit loads offers a number of benefits versus unpalletized handling that derive from the more efficient handling of goods. These include:
Faster unloading and loading, leading to the faster turnaround of delivery vehicle and greater transport equipment efficiency
Quicker availability of the trailer door for the next arrival
Dramatically reduced labor requirement versus manual handling
Reduced risk of temperature abuse for perishable products that may be moved faster across unrefrigerated docks
Less risk of product damage
Reduced risk of worker repetitive stress injuries
More efficient material handling and storage, better optimization of cube utilization in transportation and storage
Standard-sized pallets can optimize functions across supply chains, offering greater flexibility and ensuring compatibility
Pallet Ti Hi and Pallet Configuration
When goods are located on top of pallets, the containers are typically organized into a Ti Hi, where refers to the Ti (the number of boxes per layer) and Hi (the number of layers). So a 7 x 5 Ti Hi identifies a palletized load with 7 containers per layer, with a height of 5 layers. Pallet configuration identifies the how containers are located after the pallet. Column stacked products are piled on top of the product below. Because boxes have the most strength in their corners, this process provides greater resistance to box deformation than brick or interlocking pallet patterns.
Interlocking pallet patterns, however, are associated with greater unit load stability and bridging strength. According to analyze, an interlocking pallet pattern can reduce pallet deflection by up to 53%. The following video explores many of the problems pertaining to pallet patterns.
Approaches to palletization
There are four basic approaches to palletization. They are manual palletization, semi-automated palletization, automated palletization and robotic palletization.
Manual palletization involves the placement of items on the pallet through manual force. As an illustration, a worker may lift boxes coming away from an assembly line conveyor and stack them onto a pallet, or if the employee is selecting an order for a person by using a pallet placed on the pallet jack, he or she may remove boxes as required from several pallets to put up the pallet being built for the order.
In semi-automated palletization, cartons are manually slid to form a layer, with no need for lifting or walking around the pallet. Once a layer is formed, the operator presses the beginning button and the layer is palletized automatically.
An automated palletizer is a machine that takes containers from the end of an conveyor and assembles them into a approved pattern for forming layers and then building the layers onto a pallet to make a unit load.
Increasingly popular robotic palletizers utilize a robot to position individual cases or layers onto a pallet. They offer great versatility and the ability of palletizing multiple SKUs and package sizes onto the same pallet. Robotic solutions are becoming increasingly popular.
Moving beyond the question of whether or not to palletize, we extend the conversation into pallet selection options and locating the best pallet system for a particular application.