Casebook 2011: For Georgia-Pacific, a small footprint was a big step forward

A fresh approach to palletizing for a high-SKU, low-rate manufacturer improves safety and workflow.

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For Georgia-Pacific, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of tissue, packaging and building products, it was time to find a new automation solution for its Brampton,  Ontario, facility. By partnering with a robotics provider (RMT Robotics, 905-643-9700, http://www.rmtrobotics.com), plant engineer Rafael Indacochea applied an innovative robotic palletizer that was safe, affordable and suited to his company’s ever-expanding product mix.

The palletizer reduces labor, increases safety, and lowers the likelihood of workplace injuries. In addition, the new system has the versatility to build multi-SKU pallet loads, one case, row or partial layer at a time, as well as require a temporary buffer to store product that arrived in cases of all shapes and sizes.

The hybrid system is a robotic palletizer in gantry form. The robotic palletizing matrix allows the gantry’s tight work envelope to become a temporary storage and retrieval system for products to be eventually palletized for warehousing. A single-load build position is all that is necessary for a multi-SKU array.

“We expected some challenges since we were first in the market using this approach,” says Indacochea. “Now we have other plants that are looking at our system. We know it will mean savings in labor, and it’s definitely paying off from a safety standpoint.”

The matrix offered Georgia-Pacific an economical alternative to conventional palletizers by eliminating the need for load handling equipment and personnel. Its compact design was also a big space saver, offering a small footprint.

The robotic picking automation is capable and resilient, able to build multiple mixed pallets simultaneously without the high leakage rate of earlier vacuum tooling.


About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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