Automated pallet construction improves working environment at KB Components

Manually fitting pallet collars onto wooden pallets is a strenuous, labour-intensive job. When KB Components in Örkelljunga decided to install automatic equipment for constructing pallets, they were faced with a major challenge because no ready-to-use systems were available. Many enquiries were sent out to automation companies both in Sweden and abroad, but none of them had a good solution. As it turned out, help was to be found closer than KB Components realized.

In the past, all collars at KB Components were fitted manually onto pallets. It was an arduous task that often led to occupational back and arm strains, splinters in hands and fingers and even crushing injuries. When management decided to automate this work, they first looked overseas to find a solution, but they also contacted a number of Swedish companies.

“We already had automated solutions in place for breaking down pallets,” says Bo Harrysson, production engineer in charge of requirements specification. “But we didn’t have a solution for picking pallet collars directly from the stack, pulling the collar into shape and placing it on an empty pallet. After looking in various places abroad, we discovered that the best help could be found right next door.”  

KB Components chose Prepac to be the supplier. The local company began to sketch out a solution and, after a provisional test, were able to custom-design a machine to meet KB Components’ requirements. The first pallet machine has now been in use for almost a year and over 300,000 pallet collars and about 95,000 pallets have been built to date. The successful solution has led to the installation of yet another cell for pallet construction.

“Ensuring pallet deliveries to our customers is important to us, and we realized that we needed an additional pallet construction unit for another division of production,” says Harrysson. “We have large pallet flows in different parts of the factory and two machines streamline logistics. They work really well, with a capacity of about two minutes per four-collar pallet, even with pre-used collars. The collars that have too many staples, labels, dirt or cracks are automatically removed.”

The automation of pallet construction is part of KB Components’ efforts to create one of Europe’s most modern injection moulding plants for plastic components. Combined with automatic forklifts and high-bay warehousing solutions, this enables the flow of large volumes of goods without manual work. Employees and management alike are very pleased with how the automation solution has improved the working environment and productivity and welcome anyone interested to come visit the plant in Örkelljunga and see the solution in action.