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New Machines Increase Smetco's Role As A Pallet Recycling Supplier
Smetco Inc. is increasing its growth and expansion as a supplier to the pallet industry with the introduction of a several new machines that represent milestones for the company.
By PE Staff
Date Posted: 11/13/2001
Aurora, Ore.-based Smetco Inc. is increasing its growth and expansion as a supplier to the pallet industry with the introduction of several new machines that represent milestones for the company.
In addition to a new bandsaw dismantling machine that is featured on this month’s cover, Smetco in recent months has brought its first trim saw and first notcher to the machinery marketplace.
Smetco is known in the industry as a manufacturer and supplier of systems for pallet handling, sorting and repairing, including component machinery and equipment, such as pallet dispensers, stackers, platers and bandsaw dismantlers. Its focus was mainly pallet handling and sorting systems until it brought out its first bandsaw machine five years ago.
Smetco’s new 52-inch bandsaw dismantler with hand guards is designed particularly for taking apart grocery dimension (48x-40) pallets and block pallets, noted Smetco’s Norm Normile. "It’s one more machine available from Smetco’s arsenal of equipment for pallet recycling and repair," he said.
The smaller size should result in improved blade performance, according to Norm. The narrower the mouth, the less distance the blade travels from guide to guide, he noted. The area between the guides is where bowing occurs, the most important factor in blade wear and breakage.
Smetco has steadily improved on its bandsaw dismantler since it was first introduced five years ago and. It’s most recent advancements include a mechanical scissors jack to move the table up and down and a remote hydraulic pump with gauge for blade tensioning. These improvements will be carried forward to the company’s new 52-inch machine.
"We designed the saw from the operator out," said Norm. The patented fence and floating table top make it a one-of-a-kind machine, he said. It is of heavy-walled construction.
The floating table top feature allows the table to be moved by removing a few bolts. Adjusting the table, the machine can be set up for either one or two-man operation. With the table moved all the way to the back side, one operator can use all the deck space in back of the blade, pulling the pallet through.
Smetco also is known for its machinery being ‘user-friendly,’ noted Norm. Its bandsaw dismantlers, for example, have been designed and built to make pallet disassembly much easier.
Smetco was once better known by pallet users than pallet recyclers, but the demand for automation and improved material handling is growing as the pallet industry continues to mature. Increasingly, pallet recyclers are looking to reduce handling costs and worker compensation insurance claims -- and increase profits -- through the use of automated equipment.
"Machinery is what it’s all about," he added. "A machine will always be more efficient and more effective for a company" if it has sufficient volume. "More and more people admit, acknowledge and embrace...the need for efficiency. "That means not only saving money, but being more productive, producing more while doing less." Machines are more efficient and effective for the repetitive tasks of pallet recycling and for handling and moving the bulk of a pallet’s weight.
Automating with recycling equipment not only makes a company more efficient and increases production, Norm noted, but it will help attract — and keep — better employees and reduce costs associated with fatigue and injuries.
Automated pallet sorting systems remain a strong focus of Smetco, which can design, fabricate and equip systems for recycling businesses that vary widely in volume and other requirements. Basic systems for companies heavily involved in the GMA market, for example, will provide four sorts or more — pallets that can be reused immediately, pallets that must be repaired, and similar sorts for block-style pallets. Some systems will provide up to nine or 10 sorts.
"There is no cookie-cutter system," said Norm, "although a few are real close. Everyone’s different." Pallet recycling facilities vary widely, he noted, by floor space and layout and pallet sorting and repair operations. Smetco can develop systems to be integrated into a repair line. Some of its systems also have lines for painting pallets. "We build everything from the components, modular lines and complete systems," said Norm.
A pallet recycler does not have to be a high-volume business to benefit from Smetco’s services and equipment, noted Norm. Many pallet recyclers start out small, often with nothing more than a few hand tools. But as they profit and grow, they can quickly become more efficient and cost-effective by putting some of their profit into machinery and systems. Small pallet recyclers that profit and are able to expand should quickly turn to power nailing tools, a dismantling machine, and then additional supporting equipment, such as conveyors, work tables, and stackers, suggested Norm. Pallet recyclers should attain a certain volume before adding various stages, he noted.
Smetco Inc., founded by John Smets Sr., has been in the material handling manufacturing business for over 30 years. Based outside of Portland, Ore., the company began doing business as the Smets Machinery Co. in 1967, manufacturing plywood panel handling equipment.
business in 1967.
Smetco also is known for the durability of its equipment and systems. The company’s first automated pallet repair system was installed in 1972 at a local business that needed an efficient way to inspect and repair heavy slave pallets. From then on, Smetco, which is still family-owned, focused its core business efforts on pallet recycling, and it has been a leader in equipment and systems for recycling pallets, particularly pallet inspection, sorting and repair.
Smetco’s most recent innovations in pallet sorting have modernized the methods used for high-speed, high-volume inspection. Sophisticated programming automatically tracks and counts pallets as they are inspected. Operators merely watch the pallets, pull out debris and push buttons.
The company’s’s pallet repair systems incorporate sound material handling principles with heavy-duty construction. A range of components are available that make each system its own unique design and function. Smetco will custom design a system for any plant and budget.
Every Smetco system is accompanied by a complete set of manuals that includes parts documentation, electric and hydraulic schematics, programming information, maintenance, and troubleshooting guidelines — a complete package. Smetco stocks replacement parts for next-day delivery if needed. In many cases the company can help customers source parts locally in order to minimize down-time.
Smetco tests each system at its manufacturing plant prior to shipping to ensure that installations at customer locations will be quick with little or no "bugs." With Smetco’s knowledgeable staff, most problems can be solved by telephone.
Smetco offers a wide range of system options, including:
• Stacker counts can be collected and downloaded to a personal computer
• Printer package for stacker counts
• Control panel modem for on-line service consulting
• Pallet cleaning systems
• Pallet stack elevators allow for the use of electric pallet jacks in loading and unloading stacks to the pallet sorting system.
Other recent innovations include the continuous-feed up-ender. This device accepts pallet stacks from the up-ender and indexes the stack forward to the operator in a continuous, non-interrupted flow. The retrieval time "waiting" for the up-ender to return with
another stack is a thing of the past on high-speed pallet sorting systems.
The auto-sort, hands-free sorting feature allows operators to inspect pallets at a high rate of speed without touching the pallets. All that is required of the operator is to remove cardboard and loose debris. Pushbuttons are used to select the appropriate stacker for each pallet.
The Smetco space-saver pallet stackers use a small footprint and ejects stacks at 90-degree angles from the direction of infeed. These stackers can be used as stand-alone equipment or can be lined up, side-by-side, for simple and effective pallet sorting.
Pallet cleaning with an air blow-off and dust collection system is now available on new and existing installations. This latest development is a cooperative effort between key pallet users, air handling experts, and the Smetco team.
Smetco sorting systems are designed to sort more pallets faster at less cost by:
• Reducing labor
• Eliminating manual labor
• Improving pallet flow and handling efficiency
• Eliminating injuries and fatigue
• Reducing forklift usage and maintenance
• Creating a safe work environment
• Improving pallet inventory control.
Smetco’s high-productivity systems will feed pallet stacks, separate for operator inspection, remove debris, grade pallets by type or size, restack and return to service. They can process up to 7,000 pallets in a single shift. Automated data collection systems and pallet cleaning are optional. The company offers high quality construction, dependability and reliability, and low maintenance.
Smetco pallet repair systems are designed to increase the volume of repaired, useable pallets and at the same time save money by:
• Reducing labor
• Improving pallet flow and handling efficiency
• Reducing forklift usage
• Improving recycling methods
• Creating a safe work environment.
Smetco high-productivity repair systems feed and convey pallet stacks to operators, separate for operator inspection and repair, remove and replace deck boards and stringers, convey pallets from repair to automatic stackers, grade by type or size, restack and return to service, salvage lumber and convey and remove scrap lumber for further processing.
Among Smetco’s latest projects have been a variety of pallet cleaning systems. New developments may include totally automated, operator-less systems.
For more information, contact Smetco at (800)253-5400, fax (503)678-3095, e-mail email@example.com, or visit the Web site at www.smetco.com.