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Innovation Is A Big Deal for Australian Pallet Co.: Viking Engineering Develops Skute for Rod Scott & Son
Custom Solutions: Viking Engineering developed Skute system to make very long skids for Rod Scott Pallet & Boxes. About three years in use, the Skute has made Rod Scott more competitive in terms of cutting labor costs, making changeover easier and boosting production capacity.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 7/1/2012
Automation and innovation has been a guiding principle for Rod Scott since his pallet company was the first to deploy automated pallet nailing in Australia back in 1989. Ever since that day, Rod Scott & Son has valued his partnership with Viking Engineering, a global leader in pallet assembly equipment. And he turned to Viking when he needed a new product developed from scratch.
Rod Scott Pallets in Australia needed to automate nailing of a very long skid used for transporting extruded aluminum produced in the Newcastle – Hunter Valley area. With that as a starting point for the design of the Skute, the engineers at Viking set out to solve that problem and create a machine that could be configured to meet a variety of needs. With up to 10 nailing heads and a working surface measuring 20' long and 4' tall (240x48"), the Skute can be configured to automate an almost endless variety of repetitive nailing patterns.
Rod Scott said, “Viking has always looked out for me and has been responsive to my needs.”
The Skute began as an idea and became a reality after a lot of hard work by Viking engineers. Rod Scott has used the Skute for three years and is happy with the results. “The Skute has made us more competitive in terms of cutting labor costs, making changeover easier, and boosting production for large and odd-sized wooden skids,” said Scott. “Nothing is too big or small for us to do now.
A big benefit of the Skute has been its solid performance with only minimal maintenance required. Initially, it took some getting used to for Rod Scott’s employees to get used to the nailing positions on the Skute. But that whole process was made easier by the Skute’s ability to remember old designs. With a “teach mode” integrated into the controls, once a nailing pattern is saved, it can be recalled and used over and over again.
The Skute is ideal for skids, board road, mats and other industrial applications, especially any very long product that needs to be assembled using nails. Another big selling point for the Skute is the way it simplifies the process and doesn’t take up much room, which can make the manufacturing operation more efficient.
Partners for Success
A major reason why Rod Scott has worked so closely with Viking is its support after the sale. He said, “I can ring up Viking and have parts delivered to Australia in three days. Viking’s service is very good.” He added that even the sawing equipment used in his operation was bought through Viking although Viking does not manufacture those machines. Currently, Rod Scott runs a Viking Unimatic for volume orders while making smaller standard sizes and lots by hands. The Skute is used for producing larger skids and packaging products.
Beyond its pallet operations, Rod Scott has a Brewer band saw and a Brewer cut up line. Scott stated, “I like Brewer equipment because it’s very robust. I haven’t had any trouble with it.”
Although Rod Scott does use some hardwoods, most of its products are made from softwood. If customers want heat treated or export certified packaging, Rod Scott uses heat treated lumber to meet ISPM-15 requirements.
Rod Scott has developed a reputation for producing quality, specialized products. Scott said, “We don’t focus on manufacturing big volume accounts. A big order for us is about 5,000-6,000 units. In addition to pallets, Rod Scott manufactures crates, boxes, surveyor’s pegs, stakes, dunnage, and sawdust for biomass. It also offers some pallet recycling services although this is a minor part of the operation.
Most of the pallets sold by Rod Scott & Son are stringer pallets. The block pallet is not a dominant style in Australia the way it is in the U.S. grocery market. Scott said, “CHEP doesn’t even have any block pallets in Australia.”
The Back Story of Rod Scott
Like many pallet operations, Rod Scott & Son is a family business. In 1949, shortly after World War II, Rod Scott Senior started his own timber merchant venture and in 1959 Rod Scott joined the operation, It was his involvement and relationship with the local shipwrights that brought about a need to start supplying wooden packaging for the fast growing export market out of the Port of Newcastle, on the east coast of New South Wales.
By the early 1970’s the company had a small but hard working workforce that was making pallets by hand. It was not until an invitation to attend the World Pallet Expo in Ottawa, Canada in 1988 that Rod Scott saw the need to automate production. This led to the close relationship that developed through the years between Rod Scott & Son and Viking Engineering.
The company acquired additional property and redeveloped its current premises in the mid 90’s. Other machinery from the USA, Europe and Australia started to fill the new site and began ramping up production.
Rod Scott & Son prides itself on serving 100+ customers stretching from Newcastle to the Central Coast and the Hunter Valley.
Rod Scott is the president of the company and his son Rod Scott Jr. (who joined the company in 1999) is the operations manager. Even though Europe and the USA may be still struggling economically, Scott said that the pallet market in Australia has “stayed fairly strong even though the building and construction industries have dropped off a bit.”
When it comes to what makes Rod Scott Pallet different. Scott said, “We pride ourselves on our excellent quality & service and delivering on our promises. We deliver on time.”