Palletizer question: “I have two lines running to one palletizing area and want to automate. What is the best return on investment for my situation?”
There are multiple answers to this but mostly it comes down to production rates and floor space.
Your four choices are a gantry system, conventional on both lines, line release of two lines to one conventional, or a robotic system. As in every system the investment is project specific but the following are the most common. Also, typically the slower the required solution, the least capital out lay will be required; the faster the production, the more the investment but the cost increase percentages are smaller as you move up through the different solutions.
For a typical slower production rate two-line project, the gantry system has the ability to handle both lines with the least amount of capital. The additional advantages of these types of systems are that it typically takes up less floor space than the other three solutions and it’s scalable for future growth.
If the robot utilization can handle both lines, this is typically the next strongest ROI. This system is also scalable for future growth and with the advances in safety design over the last couple of years should take up less space than the next two solutions.
The next two really need to be discussed together because of the solution. With two production lines at a faster production rate going to one area the conventional way to palletize is either placing one palletizer on both lines or line release to one machine. Line release is where product backs up on accumulation conveyor (typically a pallet and half required) while the other line is releasing to conventional palletizer. Typically the additional cost incurred with the accumulation conveyor and the logic required to run line release on two lines is equal to the cost of the addition palletizer with standard conveyor. If you have the floor space, typically the best return on investment here is two machines.
With that said the cost to run three or more lines to one machine is typically a better return on investment but that gets into another discussion for a later day.