Pallet inverters allow distributors and manufacturers to turn hefty loads of merchandise 180 degrees to exchange one pallet for another with ease. Usually a stand alone machine, the pallet inverter uses a rotating frame to transfer loads or stack pallets in a warehouse, or move them into shipping containers. The equipment can be activated hydraulically by an operator who rides in a device similar to a forklift. Using a pallet inverter eliminates the need to manually move products from one pallet to another, or stack pallets by hand.
Many manufacturing companies rely on a pallet inverter, which can often handle loads of up to 4,400 pounds (1,995 kg). They are commonly found in food and pharmaceutical processing plants where products must be removed from wooden pallets and placed onto sterile plastic or steel pallets to comply with cleanliness standards. Pallet inverters also quickly transfer goods from in-house pallets to less expensive pallets used to transport merchandise. The machines are routinely used to straighten loads that have slipped, and remove goods from damaged pallets rapidly and safely.
Safety is one reason companies utilize a pallet inverter. Increased productivity is another. When merchandise is transferred by hand, employees could be injured while lifting or turning pallets, or when pallets shift during the job. Hand trucks or forklifts are suitable for moving pallets within a warehouse, but it is more difficult and time-consuming to move items from one pallet to another.
When pallet inverters first came into use in the 1980s, they consisted of a machine that simply turned a loaded pallet. The technology improved to include inverters and changers that are built into assembly lines, and remote control operated machines. Free-standing models are available to allow users to move the inverters to different areas of a warehouse or manufacturing plant. Fully-automated pallet inverters can place goods at one end of a conveyor line and remove them onto a new pallet at the other end.
In addition to food and pharmaceutical companies, pallet inverters are used in other manufacturing areas. Chemical producers use pallet rotators to avoid contamination from potential leakage of palletized loads onto wooden pallets. Concrete can be removed from a mold by inverting the load. Even bananas stored on pallets can be turned to enhance ripening. Basically, anything that rests on a pallet and needs to be rotated 180 degrees can be done with a pallet inverter.