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Problem Solvers - Solution: GBN’s Patriot Helps John Rock Enter Machine Built Block Pallet Market
Problem: Adding block pallet assembly automation that can make a complete perimeter-base block pallet in two passes without having a pre-made mat.

By Staff
Date Posted: 10/1/2012

Problem: Adding block pallet assembly automation that can make a complete perimeter-base block pallet in two passes without having a pre-made mat.


                John Rock Inc, a wooden pallet manufacturer and recycler in Coatesville, Penn., was interested in entering the machine built block pallet arena, and found an efficient way to do so with a modified version of GBN Machine & Engineering Corp.’s Patriot block pallet nailer.

                John Rock had been building some block pallets by hand, in addition to their machine-built stringers. But when management began noticing an increased interest in block pallets, they decided to look into a block pallet machine.

                “We purchased the Patriot due to increased interest in block pallets,” said Ed Healy, operations manager at John Rock. “Prior to the Patriot, these pallets were made in our hand build department.”

                The company purchased a Patriot machine that GBN had designed to make a complete perimeter-base block pallet in two passes without having a pre-made mat.  This capability made for a more efficient process, as previous designs required a third operation of building the top mat. This major change required additional nail capacity for some pallets - GBN upped the capacity of the machine to 32 nail chucks – and added the ability to run two different sizes of nails in the machine at the same time.

                GBN also made some other adjustments to the machine to work with John Rock’s needs and facility. This included adding a fully-automated mode, changing the jig so the operators only had to touch the boards once and designing the machine’s framework so that it did not need to anchor to the floor, as the hot water-heated floors prevented this.

                “We felt that the changes GBN made to produce a complete perimeter-base block pallet on a single head machine was a good, economical way to enter into the machine built block pallet arena,” said Healy.

                The new design of the Patriot machine provides labor savings as it only takes two operators to run the machine which builds a completed block pallet. It builds the top of the pallet in the fixture and then nails the bottom on. With previous machines, first the bottom was built in the fixture, then turned over to have a pre-made top mat placed on it and nailed together, taking a total of three passes to complete the pallet - one to build the mat, a second pass to nail the bottom boards to the blocks and a third pass through the machine to nail the pre-made mat onto the bottom assembly to complete the pallet. The versatility of the new design is supplemented by a Servo driven feed system that positions the pallet very accurately and a touch screen operator interface that allows more operations to be built into less space.

                In addition to the increased efficiency and labor savings, the new Patriot can also offer companies up front cost savings, as only one machine needs to be purchased, instead of having to purchase a separate machine to assemble the mat.

                “In the end, it costs less to run the machine that makes a pallet in two passes, than it does to run two machines that make the pallet in three passes due to labor savings,” said Paul Bailey, co-owner of GBN.

                This was John Rock’s first experience with a GBN Patriot machine and, according to Healy, working with GBN to purchase and install the machinery has been a good experience. 

                “GBN is a great company to work with,” he said. “Very accommodating with requests we had for some changes to their standard design, professional throughout the entire process, and responsive to our calls for additional training and support.”

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