Our customer is a distributor of dairy products and need to process high quantities of mixed pallets in the cold store.
Fromm Packaging Australia installed a turnkey in-line automatic stretch wrapping system (Fromm’s FA7 series), complete with pallet dispenser, separate re-work infeed, staging area, wrapping machine, conveyor lowering (for walkie truck access) and safety systems to category 3 standards.
Typically, cold store distribution is a fast paced environment with trucks regularly coming and going, often to different loading zones. Cold store distribution is generally a large scale operation, causing this industry to be particularly labour intensive & difficult to automate. In order to undertake this type of project, there needed to be a deep understanding of how the employees interacted with automated machinery in order to achieve our goal of 80% automation, 20% man-power & decision making.
As a result of our customer's requirements, we built their line to be as flexible as possible, allowing for three forklift operators to be working on three different points within the system simultaneously.
To achieve this, we started the packaging line with a pallet dispenser, which feeds out two pallets side by side to a loading conveyor. Forklift operators are then able to assemble mixed pallets on the packaging line, reducing the number of pallet movements.
Once pallets are complete, the machine splits the two pallets, moving the first pallet to the wrapping zone and leaving the second in a staging area. Once the staging area is cleared two more pallets are dispensed for employees to pick and assemble.
In the wrapping zone, each pallet configuration is identified and wrapped automatically with the pallet remaining completely stationary. Once wrapped, the pallet exits the wrapping zone and is then lowered to a floor level conveyor, allowing access by walkie truck as opposed to requiring a forklift. The wrapped pallets can be picked up as an individual item or two at a time depending on where they need to be taken.
The flow of the line is from west to east, however, we added an additional section of conveyor for re-work pallets, feeding from north to south directly into the main line. This allows for additional pallet to be added without stopping the line. Single pallets can be loaded and automatically transferred south into the main packaging line when suitable gaps occur. The pallet is then wrapped and passed out to the walkie truck in the same manner as pallets entering from the western side.
This installation was designed by the Fromm Packaging Australia team. The designs were then sent to Fromm's global manufacturing centre where the machine was built and tested to meet Fromm's strict quality assurance standards. Once shipped to Australia, the installation process was completed & working within 4 weeks.
A project such as this can be installed and commissioned for under $400,000, plus GST. The costs of these installs are almost always justified when considering the personnel and process improvements it can have on a distribution centre.