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A Woman’s Touch: Tips on How Best to Run a Pallet Dismantler from Industry Veteran
Industry veteran, Robin Brant of Smart Products offers tips on how best to run a pallet dismantler. You have to see the video to get the whole story.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 7/1/2010
Robin Brant makes dismantling a pallet look easy – maybe even too easy. Take a look at the video accompanying this article online to see what I mean. The key to her amazing speed is to “work smart, not hard”.
Robin Brant, an employee of Smart Products since mid 2005, also worked for six (6) years at a local pallet recycling facility prior to joining Smart Products. Robin said, “The key to running a band dismantler is finesse not strength. I once trained a 90 lb. girl who could easily run the saw.”
The trick is to let the saw do most of the work and use the proper angle to enhance the cutting power of the blade. Many operators, particularly owners of pallet recycling companies (many of whom are men), are surprised to see how effortlessly Robin runs the dismantler. She put on a demonstration at the Richmond Show for the Pallet Enterprise staff. We were all impressed by her efficiency. When Robin worked at the pallet facility, she would routinely dismantle about 500 pallets per day.
Clarence Leising, long-time recycling veteran and Enterprise columnist, said, “Wow, I told you. She’s really good. She runs a dismantler better than most operators.”
Robin admitted that many operators are surprised to see how efficiently the saws can be operated and are challenged to do better by her demonstration.
Optimum operation technique may be somewhat counterintuitive. Robin said, “Don’t pull straight back on the pallet. It will run itself if you let it. The saw will cut better if you pull at an angle, as opposed to straight back.”
When Robin flips over the pallet to do the other side, she turns the pallet so that everything goes the way the band saw blade is going.
Having seen numerous band saw dismantlers in operation at recycling yards around the country, Robin said that a few basic maintenance steps can also improve performance. An operator should check the air pressure in the tires that drive the blade. The tire pressure should be 55 PSI. Improperly inflated tires can wear a blade down quicker because the entire assembly doesn’t track the blade as well as possible. You should also check the hydraulic pressure that tensions the band saw blade of the dismantler to make sure it is up to 2,000 lbs, the optimal setting.
Sometimes cutting corners can cost you in production. Robin warned that the tires used by Smart Products are not something you can find locally. Installing the wrong type of tire will dramatically impact performance. She said that Smart Products has the tires used in its dismantlers in stock and ready for shipment.
Some operators tend to damage the blade by leaving a pallet in contact with the blade after the cutting process is over. This friction causes the blade to heat up and can lead to the development of cracks in the blade. Robin advised, “Keep the pallet moving and don’t let the blade generate heat.”
Robin said, “I have run a lot of different dismantlers on the market and think that the Smart band dismantlers are the best.”
Robin first started working with the pallet industry 11 years ago when she went to work for Ron Waechter at Delaware Wood Products in Muncie, Ind. She has handled everything from driving trucks to repairing and disassembling pallets to painting and assembling saws to answering phones and preparing parts shipments.
Robin remembered, “I used to buy firewood from Ron. He could see that I was a hard worker and offered me a job.”
Ron said that he tapped her to be a supervisor when he started a pallet recycling operation. Ron explained, “Robin was always anxious to take on new things.” Before training employees on the saws, she mastered them herself.
Ron said, “The secret to running a dismantler is to “outthink” the pallet. Robin was always good at reading the condition of the pallet.” He added that each pallet is different. A broken board or splinter can affect the best way to maneuver it to dismantle the pallet faster.
From her experience as a supervisor, Robin has found that setting the tone via a demonstration provides a challenge for many operators. Keeping people motivated is as important as anything to get the desired production. Robin said, “In most cases, if you pay by the piece, you get more work done.”
Currently, Robin works in the painting and assembly operations areas of Smart Products, a leading supplier of pallet repair and recycling equipment. She also assists, when needed, with answering phones and preparing daily shipments of parts sales. She can be seen at many of the equipment tradeshows demonstrating Smart Products equipment.
Ken Hess, president and owner of Smart Products, said ”While still employed at Delaware Wood Products, I asked Robin if she would consider attending the Richmond 2004 EXPO to help demonstrate our equipment. She gladly accepted the challenge, with approval from Ron at Delaware Wood Products. She has attended every show since that time. Robin’s “hands-on experience and operational knowledge” greatly helps us in our ability to generate and close sales of our equipment. In her spare time, Robin trains thoroughbred horses.”
Pallet dismantling may be a man’s job in the mind of many recyclers. But if you want to see it done right, maybe a woman’s touch is all you need.