Insights for Pallet Companies and Sawmills from EXPO Richmond
EXPO Roundup: Review of the latest equipment trends at the 2018 EXPO Richmond event held in May. This is the largest gathering of suppliers offering live demonstrations of pallet and low-grade lumber processing.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 7/1/2018
Once again, EXPO Richmond did not disappoint as the largest trade show on the planet for those wanting to touch and watch demonstrations of pallet and low-grade lumber processing equipment.
Live demonstrations were offered by Smart Products, Pallet Machinery Group, Viking Engineering, Wood-Mizer, Baker Products, Rayco Industries, HUB Industrial and others. Many other suppliers had equipment you could touch and visually inspect.
Most suppliers reported being busy. This is particularly true for those in the pallet and sawmill area. Many sawmills are adding capacity or restarting idle mills. It’s amazing how money can attract extra capacity. Given the high cost of labor, pallet manufacturers are increasingly turning to automation for labor savings. And CHEP is well under way on its very aggressive plan to increase automation and advanced automation at its North American facilities.
All of these factors mean that you might find a long wait time from many equipment suppliers. If you have plans to add capacity, you should be talking with key supplier partners sooner rather than later.
Some trends stand out from what suppliers offered at the show. There are more foreign companies trying to get into the U.S. market. And there is a big focus on advanced automation technologies to reduce labor requirements. Saws are being designed for easier maintenance and faster production.
The following is a review of what I saw new at the show. Suppliers are listed in no specific order.
Always one of the biggest displays at the show, Pallet Machinery Group (PMG) ran live demonstrations of the AIT M2L & TS300 board stackers, Storti Freedom pallet nailing line, Ultimizers Inc. board scanning solutions and West Plains Resaw Systems 500 Series grade resaw. PMG also introduced a new wood treatment product called Bio-Shield. Not only does WoodLock Bio-Shield inhibit the growth of mold and microbes on contact, it inhibits up to 18mm away as well, that bridges any small gap in coverage. PMG claims that Bio-Shield is not toxic and can protect wood for weeks or even up to a year. The Bio-Shield Technology is not water soluble and has the capacity for thousands of wet/dry cycles.
PMG works with Storti, which has been using robotics and other advanced automation technologies for more than a decade. Automatic board feeding and robotic pallet stacking are gaining some traction. This is the kind of thing where you have to investigate the pros and cons.
The Ultimizers board scanning system was on display, which could be a benefit for those looking to inspect and sort lumber. You can see a live demonstration of this technology at the NWPCA plant tour this fall if you attend the leg featuring Berry Pallets. The scanning system offered by Ultimizers and other companies is fairly easy compared to the scanning requirements of grade sawmills. Advanced automation in the future may increase requirements for better lumber sortation. You can do this manually or with scanning.
Viking Engineering once again has a major display at the show. Viking demonstrated its improved Express 403 automated pallet assembly system. It is now available with a side stringer loader. The company also unveiled a new high-speed pallet assembly system in development that is capable of robotic material handling. Viking has entered into a relationship with McGowan to provide robotic solutions for its existing nailing lines.
Macoser Inc. has recently began selling Delta pallet nailing machines in the United States. Delta is just the latest Italian nailing machine company to enter this market. It offers models for the lower to mid-range of manufacturing levels from 200-to-900-plus pallets per shift.
PRS had a representative from CAPE on hand to discuss this strategic relationship and how the CAPE Mach pallet nailing lines can boost productivity.
Bronco Pallet Systems showcased two new nailing systems, the model 3001 and model 3006. Both models are work stations with jigs to assemble pallets by hand with a pneumatic nailing tool and with an automatic stacker on the back. The new models feature a table or jig that is angled at 70 degrees, which makes it easier for the worker to reach longer pallets. In addition, the rollout on the model 3006 is simpler to operate and heavy-duty.
Universal Machinery Sales recently unveiled three new machines. The hopper feed double-end trim saw allows the operator to stack the material in the hopper, and it feeds automatically onto the chain infeed to allow both ends to be cut to length, 20 inches to 60 inches. The Little Champ edger is a simple machine that provides fast, accurate edging. With variable speed up to 100 FPM, it can edge boards 2-¼ inches thick and 3-½ inches to 16-inches wide in 1/8-inch increments. It will pass 30-inch wide flitches. Finally, the Nail Mate II is an extension of the Nail Mate for nailing any size pallet. The basic size can assemble pallets with up to 72-inch stringers and 60-inch deck boards. Optional stacker and roll outfeed make it a complete pallet nailing system.
Stutzman Manufacturing, LTD. has developed a block pallet assembly system based on its successful Woodpecker Junior nailing machine. This new machine is offered exclusively by Del Wagner of Midwest Machinery & Automation. Two operators can produce one block pallet per minute on this system consisting of block pallet assembly machine and a mat builder machine. Both machines can also be run independently; hand assembled mats can be used in place of a mat builder and the Mat Builder can be used to assemble other wood products such as crate sides or gates.
Alliance Automation had a video showing its Robotic Pallet Dismantling System. This is a truly unique system involving a heavy-duty custom engineered dismantler that works in conjunction with a Yaskawa Motoman robot. With just one operator, the system can dismantle 120 GMA pallets per hour, according to Alliance Automation. It has undergone rigorous field testing and continuous improvement since initial development.
SMETCO recently developed a new four-chain single-end trim saw. It features electrical controls for quick e-stop, quick open-hinged blade guard, and multiple adjustable board stops. This saw is designed to be adjustable to your needs. The specifications are: a 220/480 3 phase voltage, 7.5 hp saw blade motor, 14-inch diameter nail cutter blade and 1 hp chain drive motor.
For the first time at EXPO Richmond, Wood-Mizer ran live demonstrations of its Pallet Hawg® pallet dismantling bandsaw. Designed for a full range of pallet recycling including prep, repair, dismantle, and recover, the Pallet Hawg® is a one or two-operator dismantler with an expected blade life of up to 1,500 dismantled pallets. Wood-Mizer also unveiled its new HR250 super horizontal resaw. It features a compact, modular twin horizontal resaw with 12" x 10" material capacity. It has automatic blade tensioning and powered setworks for individually positioning each saw wheel.
PRS Group introduced the Spartan bandsaw dismantler, a heavy-duty, economical model with a 10hp, direct drive motor. It comes equipped with a heavy-duty gear reducer, adjustable table height, simple blade tensioning and can be operated by one or two people.
Rotochopper had on display its new Go-Bagger 250 designed to efficiently switch from filling bags to erosion socks in less than 20 minutes. Erosion socks are a product made from wood waste that some pallet companies have explored as an alternative to traditional markets. You can fill erosion socks with compost or wood chips for erosion and sediment control.
Baker Products showcased three new machines at the show. This includes a new rotary debarker, the LQ-72 band sawmill for cutting tabletop material from large diameter logs up to 72", and the new Mini-Mill system for cut stock production featured in the cover story of the May issue of Pallet Enterprise.
Go Fast Manufacturing exhibited its new 2NX notcher. With almost unlimited capacity options, the Go Fast 2NX notcher can notch lengths, widths, and heights that other machines cannot. It is designed to be a simple, heavy-duty machine. It can notch boards, including recycled material, cants, and even whole pallets with the cogged three-strand chain infeed system. The 2NX comes standard with variable infeed speed that is adjustable from 0–45 FPM with the turn of a knob.
Macoser Inc. demonstrated its Stromab WS-1, exclusively imported from Italy. The Stromab WS-1 is a high-speed, feed-through defecting saw equipped with a 500 mm blade. It can detect stock and cut boards to a predetermined length with an accuracy of +/- 0.8 mm.
Pendu showcased its new 4700B high-speed, bottom-up stacker. It can stack boards at up to 20 layers per minute and is designed to be lower to the ground than an over-the-top stacker for easier access to the stick placer and the infeed. The 4700B can handle material from 24" to 72" long, 1.5" to 5.5" wide, and 3/8" to 2" thick. Pendu also had on display its new heavy-duty gang saw. It is built for both durability and efficiency; it has a cutting capacity of 6" high and 12" wide. A 125 HP top arbor motor and 150 HP bottom arbor motor help to achieve feed rates of up to 200 feet per minute. Pendu also promoted its 6700PB high-speed stringer notcher. It cuts notches at speeds up to 6,000 stringers per hour with virtually no tear out. It features rugged components and fully adjustable 9" wide notch cutters.
HUB Industrial Supply offered live demonstrations of its Inventory IQ Supply Room. The IQ Supply Room enables secure dispensing of supplies and real-time inventory counts. Users can always know what supplies they have on hand and what items must be re-ordered, which HUB believes can significantly lower costs by reducing inventory consumption.
Innovative Data Systems demonstrated its new tablet-based technology for collecting and analyzing information for pallet companies. The tablets can be used to clock in employees for time and attendance, taking a picture of each worker as they clock in. They also can be used for tracking information related to pallet production, load sortation, dismantling operations, and other tasks.
Kiln-Direct had on display four products, including three new models. The company exhibited its first 100% stainless steel pallet kiln with performance upgrade. It also unveiled a new industrial firewood kiln with about one day turnaround per load and an annual output of about 3,000 cords. Kiln-Direct also exhibited the recently introduced three-hoist dip tank specifically designed to dip cut stock for the pallet industry.
Suppliers keep on pushing for greater developments even though some of the changes debuted at EXPO Richmond were fairly minimal compared to advances in other industrial sectors. The good news is that even though wood is one of the most variable raw materials on the planet, equipment suppliers are trying to automate as much as possible.
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