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Stackers and Palletizers -- Making Perfect Piles

May 2003
By Erik Cagle


The workflow process of a commercial printer is a lot like a 4x400 relay team in track and field: all the components of the team must be equally strong in order to be successful, and the final step is as important, even more so, than any other. After all, you don't want the anchor leg dropping the baton.

The world of stackers and palletizers is the equivalent of the anchor leg, as it prepares finished product for delivery. Thus while not as ballyhooed as the sexier prepress parts of printing operations, its customers demand the ultimate in reliability, durability and performance.

"Many plants run their equipment for multiple shifts; some run around the clock," notes Leslie Figler, marketing manager for Gämmerler. "As a result, printers require stackers and palletizers that can run day in, day out and still provide a consistently high level of performance."

Gämmerler has unveiled three new compensating stackers: the PrintPath STC-700 (an update of the STC-70 model), the KL 5000 (update of KL 507) and the indexing/compensating stacker KL 6000. Features include a multilingual control panel, an open turntable designed to prevent jams and large window-style guards for viewing machine operation.

Minimize Lifting

Gämmerler's latest palletizer offering is the PowerLift. The machine provides efficiency and improves productivity by helping operators pick up multiple bundles simultaneously with minimal lifting force.

Flexibility is a key ingredient in the stacker selection process for printers, according to Matthew Roskam, executive vice president for Roskam Automatic Machinery. This entails handling various product widths and characteristics.

Palletizers must also have flexibility, as well as user-friendly characteristics. "Printers are not interested in a system that is complicated to run, or that requires constant adjustment or tool changeovers," Roskam says. "Therefore, a system should handle the complexity for the operator and provide a simple, yet powerful, interface for the entire system."

The Roskam stacker has a control package that features touchscreen interface, along with a modular out-feed approach. This can, for example, allow a client to upgrade a manual offload stacker to one that can interface directly with a robotic palletizing system.

Roskam palletizers, with rugged conveyor construction, feature a package with PLC, PC and robot controls seamlessly integrated. All elements of the robotic work cell are controlled from a single touchscreen interface. The interface doesn't require the operator to directly interface with the robot controller.

The palletizer's footprint is a significant consideration in analyzing palletizers, according to Robert Stock, technical sales engineer for Kolbus America. Kolbus' DOCTOR line of automatic palletizers can handle various products, including bookblocks, perfect bound books, saddle stitched magazines, parcels and cartons.
 

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