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May 2002

Stirnimann remarks that the product a stacker or a palletizer handles is much more valuable than the material processed by a printing press. The reason: By the time the job reaches the end of the line, not only material costs, but printing expenses and finishing costs have added to its value. So, it is essential that stackers and palletizers be gentle in how they handle printed products. Systems need to be designed with short drop distances, built-in air cushions and adjustable compression, so that the integrity of the printed work is never in jeopardy, he advises.

As is the case with many finishing applications, stacking and palletizing gear is available from numerous vendors. The sidebar shows a sampling of what equipment is on the market.

How They Stack Up

Advanced Graphics Equipment of York markets the High Pile Stacker for stacking one- or two-shingled sheet streams in a vertical pile. A batching-conversion unit operates in-line with the stacker to deliver predetermined batches. A chipboard inserter is available.

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From Baldwin Kansa, the Kansa stacker handles jobs from eight-page to 250-page, half-folded and up to 60 batches per minute. It is a reliable compensating stacker that was designed to run with Kansa inserting equipment, as well as with a variety of presses. The variable-speed input section enables users to match the incoming conveyor speed. The stacker features: Eye-level, programmable controls; variable-speed input section; left, right or alternating delivery; and batch side-joggers for high-quality stacks.

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The Model 727 bundle stacker from Machtronic Products measures random-height magazine bundles and delivers stacks. Each bundle is conveyed onto a set of drop plates positioned over the delivery hopper, which opens to deposit the bundles into the pushout hopper for delivery. The unit has been designed to be operator-friendly with an easy-to-set operator interface, scales for some of the mechanical adjustments and hand cranks to minimize the need for tools.

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Gämmerler's KL 507 and PrintPath STC-70 compensating stackers use a multi-stage stacking system in conjunction with a lift plate to ensure that products are stacked in perfect alignment. Instead of dropping the stack from the lower chamber once it is collected, the lift plate raises to meet the bundle and gently lowers it to the stacking table, eliminating any opportunity for misalignment.

To further maintain bundle quality throughout the palletizing process, Gämmerler's PR 500 robotic palletizer uses a unique, patented gripper that contains bundles on all six sides, ensuring products remain in alignment during transport to the pallet. For exceptionally difficult products, the PR 500's optional handling module captures bundles while still in the stacking chamber.

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The Civiemme ST420, available through IMC America, offers fully automatic, vertical stacking technology and the ability to stack a wide variety of products and produce high-quality bundles. Ease-of-operation and reduced waste are key features. The ST420 includes automatic, self-adjusting bundle descent, integrated electronic controls and an automatic endboard inserter.

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The PAB 800 for pressing, stacking and bundling—offered by KEPES Inc.—is proven in production, running five- and six-up work. It produces at speeds of more than 120,000 pieces per hour with one operator loading and packing. Minimum product size is 4x3˝ with a maximum stack height of 6˝.

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The Master Flo palletizer system allows for the loading of a pallet at the press delivery or unloading of a pallet in the finishing departure in a cost-efficient manner by adjusting the height of an incompletely loaded pallet to a comfortable level. This reduces back injuries and staff turnover due to needless worker fatigue. The unit operates in automatic or manual mode. It improves stack quality and frees the time of employees for other tasks. Its moving parts are enclosed with toe and hand protection devices.

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The Cohiba palletizing system from Muller Martini automates the delivery end of high-speed finishing lines. The system efficiently offloads finished products onto standard pallets at rates of up to 26 stacks per minute. It handles stitched or perfect bound books, as delivered from a compensating stacker. It can also be used to collect signatures as they come off a web press.

The Forte compensating counter stacker is designed for use in web offset or gravure pressrooms. It is designed for efficient processing of magazine and catalog sections, TV programs, flyers, shoppers, newspaper inserts and commercial work. The Forte automatically adjusts to press speeds of up to 120,000 copies per hour. The system rolls on casters and can easily be moved from one press delivery to another, or can be integrated into a complete production system that includes conveyors, rotary trimmers and palletizers. Choice of compensated or non-compensated stacks. Laser counting ensures accuracy, while precise layer pressing promotes stack quality.

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Rima-System offers a variety of equipment, such as the RS-50S non-compensating counter stacker for former folders and the RS-165S robotic palletizer. Conveyors in twist, overhead, straight, bump turn and squeeze roller configurations. Heidelberg is the exclusive sales and service agent for Rima-System equipment.

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The Rock-Built Uni-Stack 500 is said to be a safe, effective method of counting and stacking products from a press or stitcher/trimmer. It is designed to operate with an in-line trimming system. The Uni-Stack 500 accommodates a trimmed tabloid entering "head" first or "fly open" first. It accommodates a wide variety of broadsheets and tabloids, magazines, single-page flyers and coupon books from as small as 5.5x5.5˝ to as large as 18x13˝.

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Roskam's full-system approach includes single- and dual-stream palletizing equipment with six-axis robots, which pick and place up to four stacks of product from 5˝ to 12˝ in height, placing slip sheets between layers. Can be interfaced with Roskam's top-loading brick pile stackers (designed to withstand 24/7 operation with automatic press speed following and scrap tracking) and its custom-designed conveyors (overhead, ground-level, spirals, flow turns, incline/decline and 90° drop-turns).

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The Model 195A automated vertical stacker bundler from Systems Technologies Inc. features automatic endboard insertion and bundle transport, AC drives with frequency inverters, producing high-quality bundles from top to bottom. The LoadBuilder palletizer features two-axis plus rotation, improved ergonomics, AC drives with frequency inverters and Smart-Burst processing for high-speed presses and bundle cycle rates.

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