A palletizer is a device used to stack and organize factory products onto a pallet. It can be hand operated, simple machinery or a highly complex robotic device the size of a small house. This device might pack any number and size of boxes for freight shipment.
A pallet is a wooden, plastic, or metal frame that holds boxes or barrels for transportation. Pallets are usually designed so that they can be lifted by a type of forklift or crane, with open slats along the bottom. Factory products are packed tightly onto them and covered in plastic to form a solid block, which can then be loaded into a truck, rail car, ship, or plane for transit.
A palletizer allows these pallets to be stacked quickly and efficiently. The most simple version would be something like a hand truck, which helps a worker carry heavy and unwieldy boxes or barrels, and place them securely onto the pallet. This is a simple and effective way for workers to safely stack products.
When people discuss this device, however, they more often mean an automatic or robotic palletizer. This is a complex machine that can quickly pack a large number of boxes or barrels onto a pallet. These machines can be as small as a single robotic arm, or might involve enough machinery to fill half a warehouse.
The automatic palletizer has a few required parts. First and foremost, there must be a means for the products and the pallets themselves to be brought together. This usually involves two or more conveyor belts or rolling platforms, but in some cases workers might manually move the pallets into position either by hand or with a forklift.
Once the palletizer has the boxes or barrels and the pallet within reach, it can begin its work. The device picks up the product with a crane, arm, or scoop of some kind, and deposits the box neatly onto the pallet. These boxes are usually of a uniform size, but a more advanced robotic tool might be programmed to recognize differently sized packages and account for their shape when stacking the pallet.
The palletizer stacks the boxes or barrels into neat rows, securely packed onto the pallet. When the pallet is full, it is either wrapped by the device or, more often, moved away to be wrapped by another machine or by hand. The palletizer is then free to begin packing the next pallet.
Modern freight operates efficiently with the help of many different machines, not the least of which is the palletizer. While it may not seem like a device which plays a large role in the lives of most people, any time a person buys a box of cereal, a stick of butter, or a box of spark plugs, this tool was probably instrumental in getting it to the store.