A pallet inverter is used to turn heavy loads of merchandise 1280 degrees to exchange one pallet for another with as little hassle as possible. Pallet inverters are usually used on their own and utilize a rotating frame to transfer pallets or stack them in a warehouse, or move them to a shipping container. They are controlled hydraulically by an operator who drives a device similar to a forklift. The use of pallet inverters allows for the gets rid of the process of moving the products from one pallet to another or to stack pallets by hand. One of the main reasons pallet inverters are used by many companies is because they are safe and offer increased productivity. If the movement or transfer of pallets were done by manual workers, they risk of injury and damage to the product would be increased greatly.
Some older pallet designs consist of a machine that simply turns a loaded pallet. Newer and more technologically advanced pallet inverters have changers that are built into assembly lines and remote controls. Customized pallet inverters can be moved from one point to another in a warehouse or plant, and some fully automated ones can place goods at a certain end of a conveyor line and move them onto a new pallet at the other end of the line. Pallet Inverters can typically handle loads up to 4,400 pounds and they are found in pharmaceutical and food processing units where products are being removed from a pallet and placed in more sterile conditions to comply with sanitary standards. Good are also transferred from in-house pallets to less expensive pallets for the transport of merchandise using pallet inverters. They can also be used to straighten loads that may have slid out of a stack and to remove unwanted good from pallets more rapidly and effectively.
Pallet inverters are also vastly used in other industries like the chemical industry where they are used to avoid contamination from potential leaks of other palletized loads. These pallet inverters can rotate anything on a pallet that needs to be switched or turned around be 180 degrees. They can remove cement from a mold by inverting the load, or even turn bananas stored on a pallet to hasten and enhance ripening.
Columbia Machine, Inc. - Pallet Inverters
Columbia Machine, Inc. - Pallet Inverters
Factors to Consider When Buying a Pallet Inverter
When choosing a good pallet inverter, it is important to put into consideration one’s business needs so that efficiency is ensured at all times. Pallet inverters come in different models and capacities depending on the load to be moved. The most basic considerations to make when shopping for inverters are:
1. Loading Capacity
Different inverters are made to handle specific weights at any given time. A lightweight inverter for moving a stack of papers or dairy products will mostly have a loading capacity of between 2,000lbs to 4,000lbs. Inverters for heavy loads like stacks of steel, cement, and other heavy products can handle weights of 20,00lbs or more. Getting an inverter with the right holding capacity for products also ensures seamless communication with other pallet handling equipment in the factory.
2. Method of Control
Pallet inverters are controlled either automatically or using levers. The lever system involves two levers that are attached to the side of the machine. This method is popular amongst operators of inverter machines as they allow them to feel where a load might need a little adjustment before lifting is done.
Inverters can also be controlled remotely, using solenoid operated valves which are usually activated by a push button with low voltage. By simply pointing at a sensor that is attached to the machine, the operator can control the inverter to move the load quickly and efficiently as desired.
There are also fully automatic inverters that are available in the market. These allow an operator to set the required programs and leave the inverter to run on its own while they concentrate on something else. These are ideal for a pallet handling system that handles lightweight products where a high level of safety guarding is ensured. Some inverters are also semi-automatic, allowing one the flexibility of choosing their preferred method of control on the inverter as per the size and weight of the load being inverted.
3. Table Size
Pallet inverters come in various table sizes depending on the size of the item to be moved. The most common pallet sizes are 40”x48”, 48”x52” or 52”x 52”. One should select an inverter with the right table size for the goods they intend to lift to minimize chances of damage during the process.
4. Safety Approval
One should always select a machine that has been tested and approved to meet set safety standards to work with. This ensures the safety of the workers operating the inverter and also reduced chances of incurring financial losses due to product damage.
5. Motor Size
Different motors power a pallet inverter. These provide the right amount of horsepower required to rotate a pallet load quickly and efficiently. Most inverters available in the market have a motor size of between 5HP- 7HP. It is important for one to select a motor size that rotates the pallets fast enough to save on time and energy costs.
6. Rotation Time
Depending on the model of the inverter, the time it takes to rotate a pallet load depends on the motor size and other factors as well. If one is looking to increase productivity and save time, it is imperative that they take the time to consider the rotation time of the inverter they intend to purchase.
7. Clamping Plates
Inverters usually have one or more clamping plates depending on a client’s need. These plates hold the load together during rotation. A clamping plate should be adjustable so that the operator can add or reduce the pressure on the load to be moved. One is advised to carefully consider the height and sensitivity of the load being moved while selecting an inverter so that chances of, for example, boxes or drums slipping off the load or product spillage are reduced.
Other Pallet Handling Equipment Used Alongside an Inverter
There are other types of equipment for use in a factory or warehouse that are ideal and recommended when one moving or loading goods using pallets:
A pallet dispenser is a dual purpose equipment that helps in distributing the pallets safely and at the same time separating the storage and forklift area from pedestrian access. It can also be said to be a temporary storage for pallets, dispensing them one by one as required in the pallet handling system. This is a simple but vital health and safety equipment that helps avoid injuries and accidents in the workplace.
Most pallet dispensers have a holding capacity of between 40 -90 pallets at a time. They come with a no-touch feature that allows for easy operation. Once a pallet is removed, sensors installed in the dispenser detect the removal and another pallet is prepared for the next delivery.
A forklift is used for lifting a heavy pallet load to and from an inverter. They are used to lift palletized goods and stack them up for storage or transportation. They are ideal for loading or unloading trucks. They are effective to use either indoors or outdoors, and are suitable for companies with heavy and hectic production needs and also for transporting heavy loads for a long distance. Forklifts can lift a load of up to 8 tonnes to a height of about 8 meters.
Pallet trucks are used for handling pallet loads at ground level. They deliver loads to and from an inverter on the ground. They feature forks for lifting a pallet for short distance indoor transportation. They may also come with a weighing scale for checking the weight of the load.
Pallet Stretch Wrappers
Pallet stretch wrappers are machines used to specifically wrap pallet loads for storage or transportation using stretch film and a top sheet that is waterproof. After the load has been turned or tipped to the desired angle by an inverter, it can then be transferred to a stretch wrapper. They are highly effective, with wrapping speeds of up to 130 pallets in one hour. They ensure complete wrapping on all sides of the load minimizing wastage of wrapping film.
Benefits of Using an Inverter
1. Eases the handling and movement of heavy loads
In a factory or warehouse that deals with heavy production, it can be quite difficult to move palletized goods from one point to the other. This is where an inverter comes in handy, as it is unequaled in its ability to move or turn heavy loads that would otherwise be difficult to move manually.
2. Retrieval of damaged goods
When heavy loads have been in transport or even storage for a time, damages on some of the goods are almost inevitable. An inverter allows one to retrieve damaged goods from a load easily without having to unstack all the items while trying to reach the damaged one.
3. Transfer of heavy loads
Some types of products, for example, pharmaceutical products, usually require being kept in plastic pallets during storage for safety purposes. An inverter allows one to easily transfer these products from wooden pallets that are mostly used in transporting them, to plastic pallets for storage.
4. Transfer loads for shipping
Pallets are normally very expensive to buy and maintain. As such, companies hesitate to ship their products with the pallets, preferring to use shipping skids instead. An inverter helps to transfer a heavy load from a pallet to a shipping skid simply and in a timely fashion.
5. Straightening loads
Inverters help to straighten loads that may have slipped out of place during while loading or offloading for safe storage or transportation.
Installing an Inverter
Like any other machine, it is important that proper care is taken when installing an inverter to ensure maximum productivity of the inverter. Any codes or regulations that may be put in place in the locality where one intends to use the machine should be checked and adhered to. Any permits that are required should also be secured when installing the machine. One should also ensure all instructions are read, and any warnings regarding the use of the inverter are well understood. Here are some of the steps that one should follow when installing an inverter:
Positioning the inverter
The machine should be carefully removed from the shipping kit. A base frame is then used to support the machine when moving it to its desired position. The machine should then be mounted on a firm level and shims inserted where needed. The clamping pressure should be adjusted to the desired pressure load using the pressure knob provided on the inverter.
All instructions concerning the electrical connections of the machine should be strictly observed to enhance performance and avoid accidents and injuries while using the machine. It should be installed in an accessible position away from people and animals. A distance of not less than 12 inches above the machine should be provided to allow for free air movement. A space of 18 inches behind the machine should also be provided for to allow the machine to cool. One should also ensure that circulation of air is sufficient where the machine is installed in a utility valve. The pump and motor should always be turning in the same direction if the machine is designed for a Three Phase alternating current.
Testing the inverter
Any loose materials such as wires and lumber lying in the area around the machine should be removed to prevent damage to the machine or injury to the operator. The hydraulic oil tank should always be filled up for improved performance of the machine.
The machine should then be tested to ensure it operates within its full range of travel. It should produce a quiet humming sound when it rises and then lowers smoothly and quietly afterward. Raise and lower the lifting table to check for clearances around.
The machine should then be tested with the load it is rated for. If it fails to move or there is a loud noise from the machine, the pressure lift valves may not be working and need to be checked. One can consult with the manufacturer for further guidance.
Safe Handling of Inverters
In a business where an inverter is regularly used, proper care of the inverter is important to ensure the that the operators are safe and that it serves the business well and for a long time. The inverter should always be used for the right purpose, which is lifting and turning heavy pallet loads. Using it for any other purpose exposes the operator to grievous harm and the risk of damaging the machine. It also voids the warranty of the machine.
It is important that all staff handling the inverter are well trained on its proper use. One can get this training from the manufacturer of the machine, or from licensed third parties who are well versed with the machine.
It is also very important that one gets an inverter that matches their business’ needs. The machine one settles for should be able to handle the pallet dimensions they are working with. Inverters come in various load handling capabilities, with some companies being able to even customize the machines for individual companies based on their needs.
It is of paramount importance to always ensure the machine is properly installed at all times. One should find out and adhere to all standards regarding its installation, and consult with the manufacturer whenever in doubt or when they need help with it.