Pallets made from paper pulp are the innovation of Icelandic business Green Solutions PLC. Claimed to be the first pallets in the world to be made from paper pulp they are manufactured from 100% recycled paper.
Designed and developed by Green Solutions, the manufacturing process is automated from the input stage, where the paper is in a slurry form, right through to the output stage where the finished pallet is ready for use. Central to the process are two FANUC Robotics robots which handle the mould and moulded pallet and also control the system process.
Green Solutions supply the complete manufacturing system to businesses requiring either one way or multi transport pallet use for their product deliveries. As systems can be supplied anywhere in the world, sourcing a reliable handling solution for the moulding process is important as it forms the core of the process.
SAMEY EHF, an Icelandic automation business worked with Green Solutions to design the handling system. "Robots were the most cost effective solution for the process and provided a highly supportable almost ‘off the shelf’ answer to reliability and ease of operation," commented Thorkell Jonsonn, Managing Director of Samey.
At the beginning of the process robot 1, a FANUC Robotics M-900iA, dips a mould into the paper slurry. After a short period of time the mould, weighing 250Kgs at this stage, is removed and a vacuum applied to the top surface of the pallet to remove water.
After the first vacuum operation, the robot rotates the pallet and delivers it to a static vacuum device which extracts water from the other side of the mould. The pallet is then transferred to robot 2, a FANUC Robotics M-2000iB, which applies its vacuum gripper to the pallet while robot 1 ejects it from its gripper. When robot 2 signals it has made a vacuum, robot 1 departs the transfer area and continues with another dip operation.
Robot 2 at this point loads the pallet into one of six drying ovens. The FANUC Robotics controller manages the sequence for all six- ovens, including door operation and heat blow, allowing it to instruct the robot to unload the correct oven and place a finished pallet onto an output conveyor.
Thorkell Jonsonn concludes, "The FANUC robots provide an uncomplicated and reliable solution and in particular they are able to use their own controllers to manage the process. The totally automated process also supports the environmental aspect by requiring minimal space and if required ‘lights out’ operation.