How do automated pallet inspections work?

Pallets are vital for the movement of goods and materials. And they are by far the most commonly used resource in warehouses across the world. But these – typically wooden – portable platforms are not only essential for logistics in general. They also have a crucial part to play in automated operations

More and more warehouses are embracing automation. However, ensuring operations run smoothly requires functioning software and hardware – and that includes pallets in good condition. Warehouse conveyors and retrieval systems must be able to position pallets with great precision. This allows automated guided vehicles (AGVs), turret trucks and co. to reliably pick up the pallets in the same place, again and again.

Automatic checks

How can you guarantee that all pallets are in good condition without a human having to check them manually? With the help of an automated pallet inspection station. This is typically integrated into an upstream conveyor system. The dimensions, condition and weight of both empty and fully loaded pallets can be verified by means of sensors, software and other check mechanisms. Are all the blocks/runners in the right place? Are all the deck boards even (and are they all present)? Hs the maximum weight been exceeded? The inspection provides answers.

Crucial tests that ensure problem-free processes

So that’s the theory. But how does pallet inspection operate in practice? Automation and intralogistics expert Dematic’s solution works as follows: using special sensors, the dimensions of the loaded pallet are carefully measured. If the load is misaligned (i.e. not centered) or the specified dimensions are not correct, then the entire pallet is placed in a dedicated, buffer storage area for pallets with defects. These faults can include, for example, damage to the pallets’ openings for forklift tines, etc., making them potentially dangerous. A display indicates the particular problem. It must then be examined and resolved manually. After all, pallets need to be in dependably excellent condition to guarantee problem-free processes – and, in turn, efficient and reliable automation. 

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