Brewery Reduces Labor with Floor-Level Palletizer
New equipment and software more than double throughput while reducing strain on workers.
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Utah Brewers Cooperative, a small regional brewery that produces 25 different ales and lagers, realized in November 2010 that it needed a less labor-intensive way to palletize outgoing product. After installing a floor-level palletizer, the company was able to reassign workers to more value-added areas while more than doubling throughput.
The company had installed a new, faster bottling line that produces 37,500 barrels per year. But, Dan Burick, director of brewing operations, realized that this increased production would result in more strenuous labor for employees who were palletizing by hand. He considered adding a palletizer to the packaging line.
Utah Brewers was able to install and start-up the new palletizer in-house. “Our palletizer has been a great addition to our brewery, reducing some of the more difficult and back-breaking labor and allowing us to cross train our employees in other areas,” says Burick. “The machine is robust. Delivery was on time and the two days of training at the facility were very helpful.”
Before the new bottling line and palletizer, two employees were stacking cases on pallets while a third delivered finished pallets to the shrink wrapper. Cases were stacked at an average rate of 6.25 per minute. Now, one person loads the palletizer with empty pallets in the morning and one forklift driver moves the finished pallets. A total of two full-time positions were reassigned to more value-added tasks, and cases are now automatically stacked at a rate of 16.46 cases per minute.
With various package sizes being palletized at Utah Brewers, the palletizer must be flexible and operator friendly. With the palletizer’s on-board software, the company is able to squeeze even more productivity from the palletizing process. Burick adds, “The product manager software is great. We can set our own patterns and adjust things on the fly, which is nice. It is a very dependable and operator friendly machine with 98% uptime.”
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Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.