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2nd Nailing Machine Puts Wheeler in Stage 2 of Automated Assembly
Wheeler Industries enters the second stage of automated pallet assembly with the addition of a second Rayco Industries nailing machine, a Rayco Pallet Pro.

By Staff Writer
Date Posted: 6/1/2001

2nd Nailing Machine Puts Wheeler In Stage 2 of Automated Assembly
Wheeler Industries Runs 2nd Rayco Nailer

GOLDSBORO, N.C. ó As a supplier of pallets to the automotive industry, consistency in pallet assembly is important to Ronnie Wheeler and his company, Wheeler Industries. The company must comply with certain quality control standards and keeps a spec sheet for each pallet.

When the company begins a run for a particular automotive pallet, it uses a check-off sheet to ensure the nailing machine is set up properly. "The person who set up the machine has to sign off in it," said Ronnie. "If a customer calls for a pallet they had two months ago, it will be the exact same pallet."

The companyís Rayco Pallet Pro nailing machine produces pallets that are assembled consistently to specification. "Once you set the machine up, it doesnít change," said Ronnie.

Ronnie previously worked in sales and discovered that some of his big customers were having difficulty obtaining sufficient supplies of pallets. Some relied on pallet suppliers up to 300 miles away. He began brokering pallets to his customers. As raw material supplies tightened, he figured he could make more money building them himself, and he ventured into pallet manufacturing.

Ronnie, 42, now has been in business for eights years. He has a 25,000-square-foot shop on six acres in Goldsboro, which is located in eastern North Carolina. The companyís 15 employees produce about 2,500 pallets per week.

Wheeler Industries manufactures mainly new pallets; about 5 percent of its business is recycled pallets, which are primarily for internal use. The companyís niche is specialty pallets. Most runs are 600-700 pallets; a large run would 2,000 pallets. Much of its business is linked to the automotive industry; the company also does sizeable business volume serving the agriculture industry. In all, Wheeler Industries makes 42 pallet sizes.

Wheeler Industries also manufactures crates, for which it uses plywood and corrugated. For example, the company supplies crates for shipping automotive components to Portugal.

Its market area is eastern North Carolina. "We try to stay within 100 miles," said Ronnie. The company has a fleet of six tractors and 12 trailers and runs two shifts for trucking.

Wheeler Industries uses mixed hardwoods and buys precut material. "I really donít want to get into the sawmill business," said Ronnie. "I leave that to an excellent sawmill that we have a good relationship with." About 90% of the raw material the company buys is in the form of cut stock.

Wheeler Industries is equipped with a few machines for the small volume of pallet lumber it produces. The company has a Morgan Resaw single-head horizontal band saw, a Heartland Fabrication chop saw, and a Morgan Resaw single-head notcher.

When Ronnie launched the business, he began assembling pallets with Stanley-Bostitch power nailing tools. As the business grew, he invested in a Rayco Edge nailing system six years ago. "We outgrew it," said Ronnie, "but we still have it. We run it all day long."

As the business developed further, Wheeler Industries needed additional nailing capacity. Ronnie bought his second nailing machine from Rayco, adding a Pallet Pro model three years ago. Like the Rayco Edge, the Pallet Pro uses collated nails and is simple to operate.

Having suppliers that are located reasonably close is an important consideration for Ronnie. "If I need help or parts, how long will it take to get them?" Some times, he noted, "I may have to jump in a pick-up truck and go get the part." Rayco is located in Richmond, Va., only a few hours drive from Ronnieís business.

Wheeler Industries uses two workers on the Rayco Pallet Pro. The machineís cycle time is one pallet every 15 seconds, according to Ronnie. "It rolls real well," he said. "Itís sweet." The company assembles 700-800 pallets daily on the machine, depending on the size.

The Rayco Pro provides continuous nailing of two pallets at a time; it fastens the top deck boards of one pallet and the bottom deck boards of a second in one pass of the nailing gantry. The finished pallet is stacked, the partial pallet is flipped, and stringers are inserted for the next pallet ó all automatically. Once the deck boards have been placed, the nailing gantry makes another pass. According to Rayco, the Pallet Pro can run with one operator and has a cycle time that ranges from 20-30 seconds. The machine can assemble pallets from 24x24 to 60x60.

Maintenance is "very simple," said Ronnie, limited mainly to cleaning the machine regularly and greasing it.

Raycoís staff provides trouble-shooting technical assistance by telephone. "Itís so easy to trouble-shoot," Ronnie added. Rayco president Hugh Anderson and the Rayco staff "can tell you everything about that machine," he said.

"The machine is really reliable," said Ronnie. "Very rarely will we have trouble with it. I highly recommend it."

For more information on Rayco Industries, its nailing systems and other pallet equipment, contact Rayco at (804) 321-7111, fax (804) 321-0658, e-mail rayco@raycoindustries.com, or Web site at www.raycoindustries.com.

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