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Trace Equipment Expanding Line of Machinery to Fit Needs of the Pallet Industry
Trace Equipment has introduced ten new machines during this recessionary period, an indication of its expanding services to the pallet industry. The latest addition is its low profile resaw in single-head, double-head, and triple-head options.

By Staff
Date Posted: 11/1/2010

History and Background of Trace
Many readers know Mona Tracy, President of Trace Equipment, who started working with the pallet industry in the early 1980s. Mona went to work for Jack Thornton of Woodthorn, one of the pioneers in pallet machinery. After a few years, Mona showed her potential to work with customers, sold her first machine in 1985, and moved from office management responsibilities to selling machinery as well.

Jack knew the industry, constantly kept his eyes open for machinery ideas to help the pallet industry, and recognized the value that Mona brought to his company. In the early days of pallet recycling, Jack Thornton's company Woodthorn was the first one to serve the pallet recycling industry. Soon Mona joined Jack to become known to pallet recyclers across the country. Mona will tell you that she studied at the feet of the master of pallet machinery. Certainly many people in our industry remember Jack for his friendly attitude. Know the saying that the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree? This famous saying applies to Mona as well. Her warm personality has always been appreciated by everybody with whom she has spoken. Jack has been heard to say, "Mona, you're the best."

When Jack closed his business in 1998, Mona didn't hesitate. She knew both the pallet industry and the machinery, and she knew how to serve her customers and their needs. The Richmond Show was right around the corner, so Mona quickly moved to seize the spot that Jack had reserved. In a matter of just a few weeks, Mona went from being part of the Woodthorn team to owning her own company and directly serving her pallet customers. While Mona was well known in the pallet recycling industry, her experience and influence included the total pallet industry and other forests products companies with special needs in materials handling and wood products manufacturing.

This year, which has hardly been a banner year for most in the pallet industry, Trace Equipment has greatly expanded its line of pallet machinery with a surprising number of new machines. Some were shown at Richmond, and many have been introduced on the pages of the Enterprise in the last year or so.

Trace Equipment provides machinery for pallet repair, pallet manufacturing, and wood recycling. Machines include disassemblers (both disc and bandsaws), sorters, stackers, trim saws, chop saws, notchers, chamfering machines, stake machines, grinders, branders, nailing jigs and nailing systems. In addition to being involved directly in the manufacturing of several machines, Mona also represents a variety of quality machines produced by others who are highly regarded in the industry.

Mona believes in providing the best machine for each customer. No single machine or system is best for everyone. She will customize the machinery to fit individual needs. Mona said, "The follow-up is as important as the original sale. Offering parts, service, and industry wisdom is a valuable service for our customers."

Of course, Trace Equipment doesn't stop with new machinery and machinery developments. It also offers listings of used machinery, parts, and service information for many older models of machinery. Trace Equipment does plant layouts and machinery appraisals.

Mona said, "I invite my customers to use my years of experience in the pallet industry as a resource for their company. We strive to help customers with questions about specialized machines and offer machines that are out of the mainstream. Sometimes our customers have special needs but do not know what is available to help them. Trace Equipment specializes in knowing about these specialized machines."

While Trace Equipment sells and services machinery for pallet companies of all sizes, many smaller companies rely heavily on what they learn from Mona and her staff.

Low Profile Band Resaw-New from Trace Equipment at WIL-Son Pallet
Trace Equipment's new low profile band resaw is the first machine in a new product offering category for Trace Equipment. This low profile band resaw concept is not new to the industry, but the former manufacturer of this kind of saw is no longer active. Industry people came to Trace Equipment asking for a replacement option, so the Trace Equipment team responded.

Trace Equipment just delivered its first low profile double-head resaw to Matt Schlabach, president of WIL-Son Pallet in Sullivan, Illinois. The Trace Equipment low profile resaw comes in single head, double head, and triple head options. It is manufactured at tabletop height and comes with or without a material return. The Trace Equipment resaw has no air or hydraulics. Its power options include gas, diesel, or electric. Standard features include, height adjustment, speed adjustment, and carbide guides. It can handle cants up to 8"wide and unlimited lumber lengths.

Matt had been running a single head profile saw that was manufactured by a by former supplier. He contacted Mona Tracy from Trace Equipment. He was running a Trace Equipment Nail Mate, his first nailing system after doing all his nailing on tables. Matt has been manufacturing pallets since 2000; after doing subcontract business for five years, he branched out on his own in 2005.

Matt said that he has tried to build his business on relationships, quality, and service. He is very pleased with his Nail Mate, which runs with a diesel powered hydraulic drive. Matt builds his supplier relationships like he does his own business, on relationships. He has liked working with Trace Equipment and turned to them as a potential supplier of a low profile resaw after seeing a Trace Equipment's ad. He is looking forward to when his new double head low profile resaw is humming in a few days.

WIL-Son Pallet focuses on specialty pallets, crating, and skids. WIL-Son Pallet has about a dozen employees, including Matt and his brothers Virgil and Leonard. Willard Schlabach, Matt's father owns the company. They chose the name WIL-Son to represent both Willard's name and the involvement of his sons in the business. WIL-Son is typical of the family-run businesses in our industry.

WIL-Son usually builds ten to twelve loads of pallets a week. It has a custom built chop saw to cut boards up to 12 ft. long. It is soon getting a custom built panel saw for cutting crating. Until it bought a Nail Mate this spring, it had nailed everything by hand using Stanley Bostitch pneumatic tools. He chose the Nail Mate because it was a reasonable investment for the benefit. It is easy to operate, low maintenance, and has increased WIL-Son's production by as much as 50%.

One of the custom services that WIL-Son does for its customers is inventory management. It keeps some customer inventory on its own yard. WIL-Son does daily inventory counts on both its own yard and some customer yards. Decisions about what customers will need for the day helps WIL-Son establish its production schedule to go the second mile and provide the service that builds relationships with its customers.

Mona recently sold a low profile resaw to Australia. She sees this as a very positive addition to her product line.

New Nailing Options
Trace Equipment has expanded its pallet nailing machinery options considerably. In addition to its Woodpecker nailing system, Trace Equipment has introduced the new Flicker block pallet nailing system, its block pallet option for the changing pallet world. Trace Equipment indicates that the Flicker forms the mats, positions them on the blocks, and nails them in place in a single pass. With an advertised production rate of almost two pallets a minute, the Flicker comes with a quick changeover for pallet sizes of up to 56" square. Air logic controls and an automated stacker complete this affordably priced nailing system. Flicker options include a stringer feeder, spare parts kit, and inkjet printer.

The Nail-Mate Automatic Nailing Jig from Trace Equipment is a new one man operation automatic air-powered nailing gantry. It is designed to build three or four stringer pallets and wing pallets up to 50"x50". Trace Equipment indicates it will build over a pallet per minute and is counterbalanced for coils up to 3000 nails. It comes with a secure deckboard hold.

The new Stack-Mate automatic stacker forms a one-two punch with the Nail-Mate. This new automatic stacker has an adjustable capacity and stacks pallets up to 20 high. It uses pneumatic powered operation with air-powered chain feed and limit switch.

New Sawing Options
In addition to the new low profile resaw covered above, Trace Equipment's new SN-10 economy manual single notcher operates with one or two boards in the holder arms. Both boards are notched on one end and then the other. The cutting area is well guarded for safety. The SN-10 is designed to notch one or two 1x4 through 2x4 stringers in a pass, or one 4x4 (up to 500 stringers per hour). The SN-10 accepts stringers up to 104" long. The notching head features indexable, replaceable inserts for either new or recycled material. Notch depth ranges from 3/4" to 2". Notch length can be changed by adding or removing ½" cutter segments up to a 12" maximum.

Trace Equipment's new Hopper-feed Block Saw is custom designed for pallet manufacturers. One operator can cut 2x4 and 4x4 blocks from 24" stock. The 30 hp/3 phase motor can execute 20-25 cycles per minute at up to16 blocks per cycle. This results in a production rate of 320-400 blocks per minute. An outfeed chute drops blocks into a hopper. The Hopper-feed Block Saw is designed to cut shorter pieces, including scrap. It combines a single arbor with 14" circular blades initially set at 4" spacing and a pneumatic pusher feed mechanism. Options include a 20 hp motor/dual voltage/3 phase.

The Trace Equipment Robo Chop is a modified upcut saw with an automatically controlled push feeder. The Robo Chop is made to accommodate longer pieces of lumber. This higher volume machine cuts up to 30,000 bd.ft. of material per shift. It can accept boards up to 16 ft. long and can stack them 5" high and up to 16" wide. It comes standard with a blade guard clamp and an additional blade guard hood and side shield. Allen Bradley controls and 24" diameter blades provide high production cutting. This is the second machine that Trace Equipment has recently introduced for block cutting. It is available as a crayon reading defect saw.

Pallet Treating and Washing
The last two new machines covered here are the Blu-Raccoon™ Pallet Cleaning Station and WoodSave Mobile Heat Treatment System.

The Blu-Raccoon is a single-stage, efficient, manual pass-thru pallet washer with a capacity of 60-180 pallets an hour. It cleans wood or plastic pallets up to 48" long by 48" wide by 6" high. It comes with energy saving ambient temperature wash and air dry. The washing station uses 150 gallons per minute at 70 psi with a 7.5 hp pump. Models exist for conventional or eco-friendly cleaning agents. This is the kind of machine that more pallet companies may need to serve customer needs in the future.

WoodSave is a portable stand-alone design that can be deployed in the field without the use of local utilities to heat treat pallets, crates, containers, and other wood products. A minimum amount of time is used to achieve treatment temperatures. The chamber size is 8'x 8'x48' with state-of-the-art controls and automation. It is easy to operate and requires no building permit, construction or tax base increase. Trace offers a lease or purchase option and dual fuel-connect to building or generator for power.

For additional information, call Mona Tracy at Trace Equipment, 877/778-7223. See Trace Equipment's two page ad on pages 40 and 41.

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