For over 30 years the leading pallet and sawmill magazine in America.
SMETCO Introduces New Stacker Designs for Pallets
SMETCO has introduced two new stacker and sortation system designs – its Quick-Stack Stacker and Space-Saver Inline pallet stacker. Its first systems were recently installed at Sierra Pallet in Reno and Dot Foods in Mt. Sterling, Ill.
By Ed Brindley
Date Posted: 2/1/2012
Since 1966, SMETCO has been in the lumber and pallet handling industries. An early pioneer in the pallet industry, SMETCO began manufacturing pallet stackers for an ever expanding industry where improved efficiency and reductions in labor and injuries became the hallmarks of success.
Today’s pallet stackers still offer the same benefits they always have, only with a range of standard and special applications. Pallet stackers automatically stack pallets neatly after they are manufactured, repaired, or sorted. A selection of pallet stacker choices is available for large or small systems and all volume requirements. SMETCO pallet stackers support a comprehensive variety of pallet types and sizes.
SMETCO manufactures the PS60 and PS72 stackers for large pallets and skids, as well as an unlimited array of custom stackers for wood, steel, and plastic pallets, including the glass and aggregate stone producers. Material handling and plant automation are major areas where stackers reduce labor, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.
GMA and block pallets have driven much of the pallet and stacker designs during the last few decades. SMETCO produces a variety of stackers for these markets, such as the PS48 adjustable stacker, and EPS40 high speed electric or hydraulic powered pallet stacker for applications requiring a high cycle time needed for sorting, repairing, and paint lines.
New innovations by SMETCO have been driven by the need to fit stackers into a small space, whether for a sorting system, or a repair system. The new “Quick-Stack” gang stacking system and the “Space-Saver” inline pallet stackers are examples of these new products. Both of these stacking systems is illustrated in the following article.
Pallet stackers are the key to automating the manufacturing, repairing, or sorting of pallets. They eliminate hand stacking which is both inefficient and a workers’ comp issue. SMETCO’s pallet stackers support a comprehensive variety of pallet types and sizes. Every SMETCO pallet stacker features a choice of hydraulic, pneumatic, or electro-mechanical power for long lasting, reliable operation, as well as heavy-duty construction.
The SMETCO Quick-Stack Gang Stacker
The new Quick-Stack Gang Stacker incorporates multiple pallet stackers built on a common frame. It operates automatically when a pallet is pushed onto the stacker infeed chains and is automatically ejected at a chosen stack number. The Quick-Stack is a fixed size for 48x40 block or stringer 4-way pallets.
It operates with one main control panel and hydraulic power unit and one electrical power drop. A Gang Stacker can be built in multiples from two to five stackers. Its stackers share a common side-wall, thereby reducing the machine footprint and the amount of time an operator spends walking to each stacker.
The Quick-Stack is designed for manual sorting operations, but it can also be configured with an automated transfer conveyor system with push-button selection of stackers.
The Quick-Stack stacker conveyor requirements include light gauge gravity conveyor for pallet “push-off” into stackers, heavy gauge inclined gravity out-feed conveyors, and various options for conveyor lengths.
Dave Schnabel of Sierra Pallet in Reno, Nevada recently installed a Quick-Stack in November 2011. Schnabel said, “I chose my Quick-Stack because it was a great value for the money. Most of my recycling machinery was manufactured by SMETCO. In addition to my SMETCO stackers, I already owned SMETCO bandsaw dismantlers and a SMETCO Trucut notcher. All of our SMETCO machines run great. I have been very happy with our stackers. When I need parts or advice, they are quick to respond. Their customer service is great. Our stacker has been a very good value.”
Schnabel started working with his father in 1989, started his own pallet business in 1992, moved to Reno in 1997, and bought his first SMETCO machine in 1999. As Schnabel has grown his recycling business, his interest in automating and improving efficiencies has grown.
When asked why he chose the SMETCO Quick-Stack, Schnabel said, “It is economical, does the job and is reputable. I was not looking for the heaviest duty system out there. I needed one that is efficient and cost effective. SMETCO is one of the best suppliers in the industry. I chose a SMETCO system that fits my needs at a price that I could afford.
“It runs well – it’s a great system.”
Sierra Pallet’s stacker system has four pallet stackers that are designed to handle only 48x40 pallets. Before his SMETCO system, Sierra hand stacked all of its pallets. Sierra presorts its incoming pallets before doing necessary repairs. The company brings in about 7500 pallets a week. Probably a little less than a third are good and can be sorted out without any further processing. About a third or 2500 are repaired; the other third or more is dismantled into pallet parts. A small fraction is garbage.
When asked what he sees as the biggest challenge in pallet recycling today, Schnabel said his biggest concern is the shortage of pallet cores. With all the challenges facing the pallet industry today, every pallet company needs to become as efficient as possible, which is the driving reason behind developing a more productive flow of materials and reducing manpower. Schnabel has chosen SMETCO as his machinery supplier.
The SMETCO “Space-Saver” Inline Pallet Stacker
Another recent SMETCO stacker released on the market is its “Space-Saver” inline stacker. These modular stackers use SMETCO heavy-duty live roller conveyors and hydraulically powered chain lifts. SMETCO says that recent improvements yield higher throughput rates and dependability. Inline “Space-Saver” stackers stack pallets directly over the transfer conveyor. Developed by SMETCO in the mid-90s, its first complete system was installed in 1998.
The versatile Space-Saver can be designed for either right-hand or left-hand flow in the same system configuration. SMETCO offers a reduced machinery footprint when floor space availability is a factor. It has a stacking cycle rate of up to 850 pallets an hour. Actual stacking rates vary according to in feed options, the amount of trash, the condition of the pallets being stacked, and the type of inspection being done.
Its rugged design is built to last in the demanding world of pallet handling, sorting, and repairing. The system cost is reduced by eliminating the need for an additional conveyor and eliminating 90 degree transfers.
In October 2010, DOT Foods purchased a Space-Saver for its pallet operation in Mt. Sterling, Ill. DOT Foods, the nation’s largest food re-distributor, employs about 3300 people and has about 3.6 billion in sales annually. DOT Foods has eight distribution centers; the Mt. Sterling, Ill. DC is the only one with a pallet sorting and repair facility. This location handles pallet repairs internally and runs a small CHEP sortation/repair facility. Pallets from the other DOT DCs are shipped to Mt. Sterling where the company handles about 1.2 million white-wood pallets and 112,000 CHEP pallets.
DOT wanted to buy a sortation system to increase its sorting efficiency. It needed a mid-speed sortation system. SMETCO had a slow speed and high speed system at the time but was willing to work with DOT to design the kind of system that fit its needs. Charles Erwin, warehouse support manager, said his SMETCO system can easily process 420 pallet an hour. Because the company receives a lot of cardboard and shrink wrap intermixed with the pallets, a more typical sortation number is about 350 pallets an hour.
Prior to purchasing his SMETCO Space-Saver, Erwin said that DOT sorted out pallets by hand and used forklifts. A forklift driver would sort out the CHEP pallets and move the white-woods to repair. DOT Foods is very happy with its decision to purchase a SMETCO Space-Saver sortation system. Erwin said, “Our SMETCO has driven about 8,000 man-hours out of our pallet operation.”
SMETCO’s biggest markets for both stackers and other pallet repairing and sorting systems are the pallet industry and materials handling world.