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The Science of Palletizing: Your Essential Guide

Alex Owen-Hill
by Alex Owen-Hill. Last updated on May 12, 2022 5:11 PM
Posted on Apr 26, 2022 9:09 AM. 5 min read time

Is there a science behind good palletizing? Yes, there is!

When you understand the science of palletizing, you can improve the quality and efficiency of your palletizing operations. This allows you and your teams to spend less time on palletizing operations, spend less budget, and produce less unnecessary wastage.

Whether you are palletizing by hand or automating with a robot, you can benefit from understanding the 7 critical areas of palletizing that you can analyze and improve. Each of these is an area of study in itself.

Here is an essential overview of the science behind a good palletizing cell.

Why learn about palletizing science? It saves you money!

Like many people, you might not think of palleting as being "a science."

Surely, palletizing just involves putting boxes of your products onto an empty pallet, right?

But palletizing is quite a complex task. Remember, it involves stacking many (often differently shaped) boxes or items high onto a pallet. This pallet will then move long distances during shipment, experiencing many varied forces on the journey.

The party game Jenga (or other such stacking block games) can teach us a lot about the science of structural engineering. Various research studies look at the science of Jenga.

In the same way, it helps to understand what makes for a strong, solid pallet.

If you choose to automate your palletizing task with a robot (which is a great idea), you also have the benefit of improved consistency that doesn't come with manual palletizing. This allows you to continue to improve your palletizing efficiency over time, saving you budget and reducing waste.

An operator is setting up the Robotiq Palletizing Solution on the teach pendant.

7 critical areas of palletizing you can analyze and improve

What aspects of palletizing can you analyze scientifically?

There are at least 7 critical areas of palletizing that you can study quite deeply. Each contributes to an efficient, productive palletizing process in different ways.

The 7 critical areas are:

1. Types of pallet

There are various types of pallets, each of which is suited to different purposes.

Examples include winged pallets, block pallets, stringer pallets, and nested pallets. Which pallet type you choose depends on the specific needs of your palletizing task. Some are stronger than others while others are more flexible or take up less space.

2. Pallet dimensions

There is a huge range of pallet sizes that you can use. The dimensions of your pallet will affect how you arrange items on your pallet and how many items you can ship on a single pallet.

Be aware that there are different standard pallet sizes in different countries and across different industries.

3. Pallet automation

A question that many companies have is "Can I automate my palletizing task?"

One increasingly popular and highly effective method of automation is robotics. With the right palletizing solution you can quickly and easily give your palletizing task to a robot. This reduces a lot of the complexity around palletizing automation that existed in the past.

4. Slip sheets, dividers, and wrapping

You can also analyze and optimize the accessories that you use to improve your palletizing. Common examples include divider sheets and pallet wrapping.

Types of sheets you can use include cardboard to place between layers, cap sheets to stop the upper layers from slipping in transit, and trays to keep items further down from slipping.

5. Patterns and layouts

Pallet pattern design is an in-depth science unto itself. You want to maximize the number of items on the pallet in the minimum space. At the same time, you need to keep the load secure and adhere to any relevant legislation.

Read more in our article How to Design the Best Layout for Your Robot Palletizing.

6. Package types and shapes

Palletizing is not just about the pallet itself. You can also analyze and improve the types of packages and objects that you are palletizing. For example, stacking bags of grain requires a very different approach from stacking small boxes.

Examples of different package types are bags, bottles, trays, cartons, and cases.

7. Load types and stacking

Finally, there's a lot you can analyze in terms of how the load is distributed on the pallet.

For example, some products require compression to keep them secure, while others require vibration or strapping to ensure the load doesn't move in transit.

Useful palletizing guidelines that make all the difference

How can you incorporate these areas of study into your palletizing operations?

Here are some useful guidelines to help you:

  • Automate as soon as you can — Automating your palletizing task with a robot is becoming a competitive requirement. But, it also gives the consistency you need to really benefit from improving the areas listed above.
  • Use your manual task as a model — When you automate, don't reinvent the wheel. Use your existing manual palletizing operations as a model for your automated task.
  • Involve your team from the start — Your team has a lot of valuable experience and knowledge that can help your palletizing automation go off without a hitch. Also, as a group, they will notice far more opportunities to improve the robot cell than any one person would notice individually.
  • Start simple and improve — Don't think you need to do everything all at once just because we have listed all the 7 core areas of palletizing above. Start with a simple palletizing cell and then improve it over time.
  • Continually improve your palletizing cell — There will always be opportunities to tweak and improve your robotic palletizing. Use the 7 core areas as inspiration to continually identify aspects of your application you could improve next.

How to automate your palletizing cell easily

How can you get started improving your palletizing operations as soon as possible?

A great first step is to have a look at what's possible with robotic automation. The Robotiq Palletizing Solution, for example, is extremely easy to use.

Find out more about the solution on our dedicated palletizing page

Meet the Palletizing Solution

What area of palletizing do you most need to improve next? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or the DoF professional robotics community.

Leave a comment

Alex Owen-Hill
Written by Alex Owen-Hill
Alex Owen-Hill is a freelance writer and public speaker who blogs about a large range of topics, including science, presentation skills at CreateClarifyArticulate.com, storytelling and (of course) robotics. He completed a PhD in Telerobotics from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid as part of the PURESAFE project, in collaboration with CERN. As a recovering academic, he maintains a firm foot in the robotics world by blogging about industrial robotics.
Connect with the writer:
http://alexowenhill.co.uk/

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