Technology Case Study: Pallet accumulation

Sometimes, the most helpful technological advances for growers come from outside the produce industry. A fresh perspective from another business sector can often provide solutions to age-old problems.

One such case is the Pallet Load Accumulation System developed by Dillin Automation Systems Corporation, based in Perrysburg, OH, for a Canada grower. The system accepts mixed cases of SKUs, analyzes them via bar code, and then uses a multilevel conveyor system to disperse each item to the appropriate location.

The equipment saves floor space, maintains quality and quantity, and uses full automation to communicate with palletizers, “telling” them which SKU is slated to be delivered next. The system frees workers from handling 90 percent of the grower’s SKUs, significantly reducing labor.

According to Rob Anderson, strategic account manager, this was Dillin’s first project within the produce industry, as the company generally works with shelf-stable, packaged food items. With the success of the new pallet system, the company hopes to promote its products and applications throughout the industry.

“Our systems are tailored to each company’s needs, space requirements, and long- and short-term goals,” Anderson said.

Dillin was chosen because of its smaller energy footprint, reduced space needs, and overall cost.

“The crux of this project was to automate the palletizing of cases by accumulating full-pallet loads, then discharging them to an awaiting palletizer—we feel we met the challenge,” Anderson said.

Dillin’s success in this arena is a good example of how a workable, profitable solution isn’t always in the first place a buyer may look; with new technologies emerging in every sector, industry-specific solutions are not always the beginning and the end of the search. Casting a wide net can provide far better yields.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full version.