Palletizing system increases throughput, cuts labor costs
Graphic Packaging International (GPI) is a leading provider of paperboard packaging solutions, including folding cartons and specialty bag packaging. Headquartered in Marietta, Ga., GPI serves customers in 10 countries with manufacturing in 22 cities and consumer packaging facilities in 43 locations.
A recent expansion and a labor-intensive process at GPI’s Fort Smith, Ark., facility resulted in decreased production and increased ergonomic issues. Five lines were being manually palletized, which was physically challenging for workers who were falling short of throughput requirements.
So, GPI looked for a solution to optimize the workforce and relocate people from manual palletizing to other skilled positions. After working with a supplier (Bastian Solutions, bastiansolutions.com) that analyzed the manual process, GPI installed a complete palletizing solution from in-feed conveyor to stretchwrappers. The final system includes low pressure in-feed conveyor, 90-degree rotation conveyors, row-forming conveyors, pallet conveyor, layer building table, shuttle car system, palletizers, a gantry system with a specially designed end-of-arm tooling, stretchwrapper and control system.
This approach provided the mechanics to support product from the bottom, while offering the versatility of multiple palletizing patterns. The end design resulted in a traditional palletizing system handling eight cases per minute in 50 unique stacking patterns.
“This solution is user friendly and easily set up by the operators,” says Gregg Ruple, GPI project engineer. “Adjustments to each pattern are stored in the system so that those adjustments are automatically made the next time the pattern is selected and run.”
According to Ruple, “The palletizer system has allowed us to reduce manual palletizing by 50%, run more of our finishing equipment without adding any additional headcount and allowed workers to take on other positions in the facility.”