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What Core Shortage? Universal Machinery Powers Recycling Operations at Pallet Management Group
Core Strength: Pallet Machinery Group has turned to Mona Tracy to develop a mammoth pallet disassembly system that keeps it flush with recycled lumber to compete using combo pallets to avoid lumber market fluctuations.

By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 3/3/2014

                Pallet Management Group (PMG) Inc. of Ontario, Canada finds itself in an enviable position in the pallet industry. It has plenty of cores to process and to turn into combo pallets as well as to sell excess used lumber to nearby pallet companies. One of the key reasons for this is the local demographics of the market as well as the equipment it uses supplied by Mona Tracy of Universal Machinery Sales.

                With Ontario locations in Toronto, London and Hamilton, PMG demonstrates the reliability and leadership demanded by top clients, such as General Motors, Toyota, Magna and The Home Depot. PMG does mostly recycled pallets and makes very few new pallets although it does produce lots of combo pallets for customers. The company produces about two million pallets per year for customers with the majority of its production being recycled or combo pallets.

                Tim McGillion, president and owner of PMG, said, “We have had tremendous success with Mona and her equipment.” He added that except for a few pieces of machinery almost everything that he has acquired since 1998 has come from Mona Tracy. She has even assisted with the sale of excess equipment that McGillion no longer used.


No Core Shortage Problem Here

                Most U.S. recyclers might be surprised to find out that getting cores is not a problem for the Ontario pallet market. McGillion said, “We haven’t had a core problem here in Ontario…We have more cores than we know what to do with.”

                The reason is simple. Ontario has become a major distribution center for the region, which means lots of products coming in on pallets and not that many are going out on 48 x 40s. Some of the large exporters in the area, such as the automotive sector, do not ship on a standard GMA pallet. Also, Target and other retailers have located DCs in the area, which means a continuous influx of pallets.

                This large supply of cores means that PMG can supply its customers with recycled and combo pallets and not have to worry about the ebb and flow of new lumber markets.

                McGillion explained, “I have pushed pallet recycling, especially reusing old lumber because that is a huge benefit to us. It has allowed us to avoid wide raw material price swings due to up and down lumber prices. Our lumber stays the same because it is primarily a factor of labor and machinery costs, which doesn’t go up much each year.”

                He added, “One of the unique things about us is that we have a very large pallet disassembly system with TRIM-TRAC saws. We have nine positions for cutting boards. We cut boards as soon as they are produced. We are producing 25,000 usable pieces of lumber for pallets every day across three facilities. We actually sell excess recycled lumber of certain sizes to other pallet companies. “

                All of the PMG facilities have large sortation areas due to a wide variety of odd-sized pallets. This process is done by hand because automation tends to work better when you have fewer sizes to sort, according to McGillion. He said, “You have to sort all those odd-sizes because they tend to be higher margin pallets than just a 48 x 40.”


The Right Equipment Makes All the Difference

                 The Toronto facility receives about 20,000 pallets per week that are first sorted. About 30% get taken apart for combo pallets, 10% are turned into scrap and the remainder are repaired and resold.

                PMG uses RUN-A-GADE high-volume band dismantlers supplied by Universal Machinery.  McGillion said, “The RUN-A-GADE dismantlers are phenomenally heavy machines, constructed of thick steel. Nothing moves. Everybody knows that employees just throw pallets on these dismantlers and it doesn’t move.”

                PMG has six RUN-A-GADE units scattered across its three locations. It also uses a custom machine that has a larger opening with the capacity to process up to 72-inch boards.

                Speaking about the RUN-A-GADE systems, McGillion commented, “We also love the speed of the blades. We can do 600-700 pallets per blade. It’s not just the type of blade that you buy. It is the speed of the machine as it cuts through the lumber and nails.”

                McGillion also preferred the RUN-A-GADE systems because he wanted one-man machines instead of two-man units to reduce the number of employees needed to operate his dismantling operations.

                Dismantled lumber is dropped onto a conveyor and moved automatically to a table near the TRIM-TRAC saws for cutting the boards to size. McGillion explained, “Lumber is not put into bins like in a lot of operations. We don’t do any double handling of boards or scrap material. One person handles the boards from two machines, so we love that part of it.”

                Pallet lumber pieces are sorted into size, width, species (hardwood versus softwood) as the material comes off the TRIM-TRAC saws. Finished stacks are marked and moved to the yard for inventory. A big key for PMG is the efficient storage of used lumber. This helps keep its yard clean, reduces clutter, improves efficiency and ensures that excess material is turned into something profitable instead of just staying on the yard forever. McGillion stated, “When we look at our inventories, I don’t allow us to keep bundles of recycled components that we are not actually using. We can grind that material or sell off excess lumber. We have a unique ability not to have any excess inventory or scrap that doesn’t have any market for us.” 

                PMG has installed customized TRIM-TRACs that are bit longer than standard units. These saws cut one side of the stringer at a time. PMG has setup its saws to easily produce nine different sizes. The staff can easily changeover from one size to another. This allows for huge savings on wasted wood and creates a large amount of usable recycled lumber.

                McGillion boasted, “Mona builds a brute of a machine. She knows that wood is a tough material to deal with, and her equipment is heavy duty.”

                Scrap material goes to a Peterson horizontal grinder or Morbark 1200 grinder to produce colored wood chips. PMG produces about 50,000 yards of the material each year. PMG uses colorants from Colorbiotics. McGillion spoke positively about all three of these suppliers. He said, “Colorbiotics is a very professional company with fantastic sales people and a quality product. Colorbiotics gets everything done on time and delivers on what it promises.”

                Although the company does not have its own heat treatment system, it will provide heat treated pallets by sending them out to be done by a third party provider.

                Pallets are repaired at stations using hand tools. Some of the new or combo pallets are produced on a WOODPECKER fully-automatic nailing system, which has been introduced by Mona Tracy. Because it can produce up to three pallets per minute, PMG uses the WOODPECKER for large and small orders where quality and precision are a must. It can efficiently use recycled lumber to produce new or combo pallets. McGillion said, “The WOODPECKER is very stable and can withstand the beating that recycled lumber can put on a nailing line.”

                One boost to its combo pallet business has been the addition of the Pallet Design System (PDS) to its arsenal. McGillion explained, “We started using the PDS software about 3-4 years ago. That has helped us immensely with our customers to be able to show them what you can do with pallets that we can manufacture from recycled lumber instead of new lumber.” PDS software is widely used to analyze and specify pallet designs to ensure strength and performance.

                Customer service has become a hallmark of PMG. It offers phone services 24 hours, 7 days a week as well as regulatory compliant recyclables collection. These little differences mean a lot for customers.


Backing Into the Pallet Business

                McGillion kind of fell into the pallet business by accident. His company originally started as a wood grinding operation and quickly became the largest company of its kind in the region. As the company grew, it was collecting pallets and was not able to find a wholesaler that would buy them due to the recession.

                Today, PMG has 65-70 employees offering service throughout the Ontario area. Committed to serving its customer with competitive pricing and quality service, PMG has grown steadily since its humble beginnings.


RUN-A-GADE Bandsaw Dismantler

                Sold by Mona Tracy of Universal Machinery, the RUN-A-GADE is a mammoth bandsaw dismantler that can take a beating while increasing yield in board processing. Equipped with large rubber tires and extra-duty blade guides, this one-man machine combines safety, longer blade life and ease-of-operation. 

                The RUN-A-GADE features a large table size that will accommodate up to 60" pallets and a pneumatic blade tensioning system. The 15hp, 3-phase motor with starter allows for the right amount of power to easily dismantle the toughest pallets all the while improving blade life. 

                Connect multiple machines to create the configuration that will be best for your plant layout and production goals. Optional conveyors, round tables and trim saws can improve your efficiency in your recycled lumber operation.

                For information on this or any other piece of equipment sold by Universal Machinery, contact Mona Tracy at 855-298-8890 or 812-298-8090. You can also find more details at www.universalmachinerysales.net


WOODPECKER Fully-Automatic Nailing Machine

                If you are looking for a versatile automated nailing machine capable of producing up to three pallets per minute that can efficiently use recycled lumber, then the WOODPECKER nailing machine may be your answer. Introduced by Mona Tracy of Universal Machinery, the WOODPECKER features quick adjustment screws to dramatically speed up change-over time, a safety stop on both sides of the gantry, top and bottom board stations, pallet flipper, easy-to-use operator controls without requiring complex computers and a pallet stacker. 

                Little extras improve the operation of the machine, including slanted bars that make it easy to fill the automated runner feeder and a superior board hold down mechanism to other machines on the market. Top and bottom board flushers and a pallet stenciller can be added as options.

                For information on this or any other piece of equipment sold by Universal Machinery, contact Mona Tracy at 855-298-8890 or 812-298-8090. You can also find more details at www.universalmachinerysales.net.

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