There is a strong pull from retailers like Wal-Mart and Target for more complex pallets including rainbow and mixed loads, often shipped direct to store. This paper presents the options for producing efficiently to meet their needs.
Some of the market dynamics that are increasing the demand for more complex-to-produce split pallet loads:
- Companies are further implementing lean manufacturing processes by adding radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to the mix and are looking to reduce costs that, until recently, have just been accepted as part of the trend in lean.
- The push, especially by big retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, is for more frequent deliveries in smaller quantities so they are able to have less inventory and the right quantity of what customers want when they want it.
- To reduce these costs associated with implementing lean (costs have been incurred in the distribution end of the supply chain), manufacturers are looking to such things as:
- Direct-to-store shipments rather than to the distribution center (DC).
- Mixed pallets, meaning more than one stock-keeping unit per pallet.
- This can, at times, be a negative since it often employs extra labour to unload and revalorise, unless automation is used, which can be expensive and require a large footprint.
- With the increasing implementation of RFID, identification reaches down to the case level, making reordering easier, faster, and cheaper. This also makes it easier to implement rainbow mixed-pallets and custom pallets built on the fly.
The options available will focus on the trend toward mixed pallets.
- In order to implement split pallets (rainbow/planned mixed pallets or custom-built mixed pallets), this often takes labour-intensive manual solutions or automation solutions that can be complicated, expensive, and footprint-intensive.
- Manual solutions require multiple people to depalletise single SKU pallets and then rebuild rainbow or mixed pallets. This is expensive, but also runs the risk of injury because the solutions here are not ergonomically friendly.
- The automated solutions available are expensive with significant footprints, effectively further increasing their cost due to the expense of and lack of available space in existing and new facilities.
A compact, effective solution
A solution that would allow plants to incorporate these solutions in their plants or to efficiently use new mixing or DC spaceshould offer a small footprint, be inexpensive to deploy, simple to implement, and flexible for quickly changing pack types and increase throughput. Such a solution is available with the Intralox Series 400 Angled RollerTM Belt, currently used in multiple depalletising/descrambling applications. The benefits of this solution are as follows:
- Footprint Savings-The Intralox system can depalletise a pallet layer, singulating/descrambling, aligning, and orienting cases, in 30 feet or less. This helps plants employ the trend in more direct-to-store shipments as well since plants are generally short on real estate—if they can do this in a short footprint, they may be able to deploy within their plants. If building new facilities, this solution takes up a far smaller footprint than some solutions, allowing for a smaller expansion footprint, or more efficient uses of the available space.
- Effective Throughput–The aforementioned Intralox solution can depalletise pallet layers faster than any robot can provide product to be depalletised. This means that it offers enough flexibility to keep up with the ever-expanding throughput capacities of robots on the market.
- Low Cost–The Intralox depalletising system, employing the patented Intralox Series 400 Angled RollerTM Belt, is the low cost solution among the available options.