What are the reasons for using a Palletizer?
Palletizers have been around for decades, they are a staple within automation due to the benefits that tag along with them.
Stacking pallets is a laboursome job, its manually intensive and requires consistent resources in order to satisfy production and logistics requirements.
There are many reasons why a business may choose to automate the process with a palletizer, here are a few:
Challenges of labour are one of the biggest drivers in automation. In recent times we are experiencing amplified effects of this due to Covid and other economic hurdles, these challenges are driving companies toward change and streamlining processes to reduce costs.
Labour is becoming more expensive. While a strong labour force is crucial to business performance, certain tasks such as palletizing, which add no value to the end product are a necessary expense to distributing manufactured goods.
While hand palletizing is usually the first and most logical option, as companies begin to scale this, non-value-added expense also increases.
Introducing an automated system, like a palletizer machine, allows companies to invest in onsite equipment opposed to sinking large costs into labour.
Typically paying for themselves in 1-2 years, palletizers are an investment into future cost reduction and operational bonuses.
There is a huge shortage of labour in the UK. While hand palletizing may be preferred by some manufacturers, obtaining the labour to begin with is proving to be difficult.
According to the Food & Drink Federation Since the start of the pandemic its estimated that there are 1.1m fewer people in the labour force. In the manufacturing industry there were 97,000 vacancies in January 2022, an increase of 113% on the year and 80% compared to two years ago.
Keeping hold of valuable workers is proving to be more difficult than it previously was.
Across warehousing there is a 46.1% staff turnover rate, compared to the 12-15% average across the board for other sectors.
This is likely to cause operational inconsistencies and require attention to maintain and manage, some manufacturers may resort to agency workers which come at a premium.
Manual handling places considerable strain on employees. Handling, lifting, carrying and arranging inventory increases the risk of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) while also having the potential of severe accidents.
Palletizing products is a repetitive process which leaves employees susceptible to RSI’s, according to the Labour Force Survey, there are over 200,000 work-related RSIs in the UK every year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate 639,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury in 2019/2020, of which 19% (131,700) were caused by handling, lifting and carrying. An increase of over 13% from the year before.
Return on Investment
Palletizers are an investment in future cost reduction, they typically work with a high operating equipment effectiveness (OEE) as they are an integral part of production, therefore running most of the time.
When compared to manual labour, a palletizer will typically pay for itself over a 1-2 year period, allowing businesses to ride the benefits of automation right into the green.
Throughput: Manual Palletizing vs Automatic Palletizer
Manual palletizer operator is labour intensive, a limited labour force is likely to generate diminishing returns when production ramps up due to fatigue and potential injury, this can lead to slower and less accurate performance.
An automated palletizer is versatile and reliable, enabling businesses to maximise throughput without concern. They provide measurable and repeatable outputs which can be scaled up or down to suit requirements, giving manufacturers complete control over operations and output levels.
Stacking Strength & Damaged Loads
Inconsistences with manual labour can often lead to damaged goods, usually a result of fatigue or RSI’s which reduces care of handling. Damaged products lead to costly product returns, studies have found that the cost of replacing damaged products can be up to 17% higher than the original shipping cost.
Damaged goods are not only an immediate cost but could have long term ramifications too. One study found that 58% of people say their relationship with a business or supplier would be negatively impacted if they received a damaged product. Moreover, of that 58%, 20% would go as far as to never do business with that company again, even if it’s the first time its happened.
Most automation systems offer uptime benefits due to their ability to work around the clock, palletizers are no different. Unaffected by sickness, injury, breaks and holidays, palletizers are a reliable means to automating at the end of your production line, allowing manufacturers to do more in the same amount of time.