A high-speed palletizing answer to palletizing considerations posed by the direct-to-container digital printing and can manufacturing industries
True innovation is rooted in solutions derived from industry needs, and this kind of challenge is something that Ska Fab relishes and has delivered through the presentation of a unique bulk palletizing solution: The BAM.
According to Steve Sherman, CEO of Ska Fab, “What’s happened in the printing industry is that the throughputs on that capital equipment are doubling, they’re tripling, so this isn’t five percent growth or eight percent growth, but printers that are being installed on the line that might have been 90 CPM are now 500 CPM and they are saying “give me more.” As line speeds grow in the direct to container digital printing and can manufacturing industry, customers looked to Ska Fab first to find solutions for these challenges so that they could be matched on both the depalleizing and palletizing sides of their large scale capital equipment. Ska Fabricating answered this call by unveiling the BAM Bulk Palletizer: a high-speed palletizing solution for the direct to container digital printing and can manufacturing industries.
COO, Sean Bannon notes that, “Keeping pace with what the demand has been and taking one gradual step after another…” [has been the focus of this development process.] “We love those asks, those opportunities,” Bannon continues, stating that, “I think that’s how we got there – just listening [to our customers], and that’s really been a big part of driving how [BAM development] has evolved over time as well.”
Innovations Rooted in Research and Testing
The BAM takes a full pallet of cans from the manufacturing or decorating equipment and then is able to fully palletize and band them at speeds up to 1,000 CPM. The process of the BAM begins as cans exit the printer and then advance in a single file towards a mass accumulation table. At this stage, the correct can layer pattern is created and layers of cans are separated and automatically swept onto the palletizer.
The BAM has separate dunnage bins for top frames as well as tier sheets, managed by a separate system from the layer sweep. The dunnage management system works in parallel to pick and shore tier sheets and top frames throughout the palletization process. Engineering Manager, Brian Pisani, notes that, “Separating out the dunnage, the top frame and the tier sheets, was a really important design criteria for us,” as it allows for less interaction from the operator, which Pisani notes is an important consideration as the speed increases.
Another key facet of the BAM is the layer shoring station for both the tier sheets as well as the top frame. The shoring station ensures that the shape and alignment of the pallet is sharp and clean every time – something that is important to both can decorators as well as can manufacturers and their customers.
“The great thing was that in developing the BAM we found out a lot of market considerations that were more than just speed,” Pisani states, “Running really fast is important but running fast for a long time is just as important.” This kind of reliability derived from market research, as well as in-house development in the Ska Fabricating Research and Development facility, was paramount to the engineering team.
To allow for this continuous operation, another significant increase in automation with the release of the BAM Bulk Palletizer comes from the addition of the pallet handling system. The empty pallet destacker and pallet infeed conveyor combined with the finished pallet outfeed conveyor allow the palletizer to run continuously without operator interaction between pallets. For maximum automation, an optional pallet strapping machine can be integrated to further reduce manual line operations.
Sean Bannon echoes this sentiment, noting that, “It’s incremental change. It’s taking that next step, but in many ways it is reapplying a proven design or approach. It might be the first on that machine, but what we are integrating, what we are bringing together in terms of features and functionality is something that’s been developed and proven.”
Flexibility is another market consideration that the BAM attends to, through its ability to do a complete changeover in fifteen minutes. For containers of the same diameter, no changeover is necessary. This kind of flexible solution for decorators and manufacturers is nothing short of essential and Steve Sherman notes that, “ It opens up a new threshold of throughput and automation and flexibility that didn’t exist yesterday.”
The BAM: Evolving the industry one step at a time
The roots of this improvement to the industry are deep and multifaceted. Each strand of questioning that the Ska Fab engineering team pulled on led to more questions, more testing, and ultimately, success. Sean Bannon notes that, “I think the most exciting part is just seeing this latest step in the journey. The genesis of the machine happened years ago and has just been evolving since then.” This natural evolution paired with the amount of customer feedback makes for a truly unique solution to these industries as Ska Fabricating refines and hones based on in-the-moment feedback from customer input. “It’s just been this continuous process of improvement and evolution over time, and taking one gradual step after another,” Bannon continues.
Steve Sherman echoes these ideas, stating that, “We have hundreds of years of collective experience moving containers off of a pallet through a production line and onto a pallet and on to their end customers. So experience matters.” The Ska Fab design and layout process is quite unique in that it is an in-depth analysis from sales to engineering to project management as to what works best for each customer’s unique space, needs, and growth trajectory. “We look at a solution and say, ‘what do you need?’” continues Sherman, “We work with you. I think what you get from us is we make pieces of equipment that are high speed, flexible, agile, scaleable, and we integrate because that’s what our customer needs.”
The BAM Bulk Palletizer is already creating a buzz in the packaging industry, with orders secured through the end of the year and more inquiries every day from companies who decorate or manufacture cans. Steve Sherman states that, “Our R&D Team and how we design products is all customer driven, not market driven. We’re not pushing some capability on the market that isn’t needed or saying, ‘Oh look, we’ve invented something. I hope somebody needs it.’ We drive this from the industry.”
This answer to the challenges posed by these industries has been answered with this innovative solution from Ska Fabricating: The BAM Bulk Palletizer.
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