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Make the Connection to Smart Palletizing
April 15, 2019
When evaluating palletizing equipment, you might ask: “how smart do palletizers really need to be?” Consider the following criteria:
- What if they could quickly react to changing packaging requirements?
- What if they could be remotely and automatically monitored for fast diagnosis to prevent downtime?
- What if they could deliver additional throughput than thought possible?
- What if they were smart enough to save up to $50,000 per year?
While this may sound too good to be true, today’s palletizing manufacturers are leveraging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies to connect machines and enable the intelligence needed to make these claims a reality.
In recent years, conventional palletizing equipment — such as those used in end-of-line manufacturing — has evolved to address new and emerging packaging and production demands:
- SKU proliferation and the resultant variety of package sizes and types
- The introduction of different packaging materials (and more fragile types)
- New graphic requirements and aisle-ready packaging configurations
- Mixed load orders and intricate stacking patterns
It may surprise you to learn that today’s conventional palletizers are already smarter than you think. Leading palletizing equipment manufacturers like Honeywell Intelligrated provide user-friendly pattern utilities that allow these machines to adapt and change with the requirements of their production demands. But to maximize equipment uptime, utilization and revenue, these palletizers must also be connected — and that’s where our IIoT expertise and connected technologies come into play.
Uniting islands of automation
Traditionally, palletizing equipment operates independently, a concept that is commonly referred to as an island of automation. By using machine-level sensors that connect palletizers to the cloud, we’re uniting these separate islands and bringing them together under an umbrella of a fully connected system or network.
So, instead of physically checking the diagnostics on each individual palletizer, connectivity gives operators remote visibility to each machine’s production status, performance reports and advanced diagnostics. Then, by comparing this data to established performance baselines, operators can quickly identify utilization problems or issues that could lead to unplanned downtime.
This is how we’re able to answer all the questions posed at the start of this blog. Connectivity provides facility operators with system-level visibility so they can quickly resolve problems in their respective production operation — whether that’s upstream, downstream or on the palletizing machine itself.
So, how does this work? Machine-level sensors placed near the palletizer’s motor and gearbox capture equipment parameters such as temperature, vibration and current draw. Having access to this information in the cloud gives facility operators a snapshot of asset health in real time, and allows them to make decisions or diagnose problems that impact production.
Combined with insightful analytics capabilities, this data also serves as the foundation for health-based, predictive-maintenance programs. Rather than spending unnecessary money on traditional preventative maintenance and replacement parts, operators are notified when trending data indicates a potential problem — then can address it as needed.
Capitalizing on available data
All of this can add up to more money in the bank. We’ve seen firsthand how trending data from connected palletizing equipment can uncover huge opportunities for production improvements. For example, if a piece of equipment is discovered to be prone to repeated jams, then simply resolving that issue can result in real revenue gains. We’ve seen where even a marginal 0.5% reduction in downtime can net more than $50,000 in additional annual income.
Refer to our informative brochure for more information on our advanced palletizers and depalletizers.
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