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SCA Wood UK installs pallet conveyor

04 October 2018

BS Handling Systems has installed an 18.5 metre long pallet roller conveyor for the timber firm at its Melton facility.

The pallet conveyor was installed as part of SCA Wood UK’s plan to automate the palletisation of its softwood shavings bi-product.

Russ Ellis, production development manager at SCA Wood UK explains: “Previously we were using a manual system to move the pallets stacked with our Thoroughbred shavings. However we were never really happy with the system and from a health and safety perspective, it was no longer meeting our requirements. Therefore we came to the decision that it was time to automate the manual line.”

“We discussed the project with four or five suppliers, including companies who we had worked with before on different tasks. During the tender process, a newly appointed member of staff recommended we contact BS Handling Systems, as he had previous experience of working with them in the retail sector. So they actually came into the tendering process relatively late."

“From our initial correspondence with BS Handling Systems, the level of professionalism they showed us gave me a lot of confidence that they were highly capable of completing this project. First impressions are not always correct, but their extensive knowledge gave me peace of mind that they really knew what they were talking about and that they would be able to deliver the right solution for us.

“Beyond the first impression, they then had to deliver in terms of specification, price and delivery schedule. As the discussions progressed and they made the necessary site visits, they continued to tick the other boxes for us. As well as their high level of competency, BS Handling System’s quote was very competitive. 

“Ultimately for me, however, it’s not necessarily just about the cost. With BS Handling Systems, I felt the value for money they were offering us was far better than their competitors in terms of the quality, delivery, specification and installation promise.”

The challenging part of the installation was producing a solution that could not only automate the movement of pallets, but also incorporate SCA’s existing processes. This included a baling machine which packs the shavings into bales, a robot arm for the movement of packed bales, a scissor lift to move the pallet during the stacking process and a shrink wrapping machine with turntable which wraps the pallets.

Russ continues: “BS Handling Systems came up with a solution which we then tweaked as we went through the thought process; they were extremely helpful throughout and always open to design improvements. In addition, we had to ensure the solution met all the important health and safety requirements. Again, they were extremely flexible in accommodating such additional changes.”

The system starts with the softwood shavings being filtered and bagged by a baling machine. The baling machine connects to a conveyor which transports the packed bales to the robot arm. The robot arm then individually picks up each bale and systematically places it onto the pallet. On average, each pallet holds 42 bales.

As the weight increases, the scissor lift lowers the pallet incrementally to meet the start of the powered roller conveyor. Once the pallet is full, it then joins the conveyor line and is transported to the shrink wrapping machine in the centre. The pallet is then moved onto the turntable which rotates the pallet to enable the bale stack to be wrapped. 

Once wrapped, it progresses along to the end of the conveyor line where up to four pallets can accumulate before a fork lift truck moves them for storage. The conveyor line has been optimised to meet SCA Wood UK’s target of producing 51 pallets per day. 
There was minimal downtime during installation. 

Ellis says: “Our operation is 24 hours, 5 days a week, and when BS Handling Systems had finished for the day, they left the line in a condition that meant we could keep it running overnight. The installation process took one week and during this period they kept downtime to the absolute minimum.”