What’s a pallet machine?

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A pallet machine is used to make pallets, which are platforms for stacking materials. The machine varies depending on the size and material of the pallet. Wooden pallets are made by placing stringers and deck planks on a moving platform and nailing them together. Plastic pallets are made through injection molding. Custom pallet manufacturing is available for large customers, and international shipping requires compliance with ISPM 15.

A pallet machine is essentially a standalone assembly line used to make pallets. Pallets are platforms upon which material is stacked and are constructed for easy transfer, usually with a forklift. As pallets vary in size and structural material, pallet manufacturing machinery also varies.
In the production of wooden pallets, the function of the pallet machine is to efficiently allow the placement of stringers or blocks to which the deck planks are nailed. When the deck stringers and planks have been placed on a moving forward platform, the deck is nailed to the stringers. A nail gun, usually three pneumatic nail heads placed over the cross beams, is moved manually across the deck and the nails are driven through the deck planks, fastening them to the cross beams.

In a small shop, the pallet is then manually inverted and the lower deck planks are similarly secured. With a more sophisticated pallet machine, this is done with robotics. The pallets are then moved onto a conveyor belt to be stacked by forklift and await transport to an end user. Pallet assembly using a small pallet machine generally produces one full pallet per minute, while more complex machines have a higher pallet assembly rate.

An injection molding process is usually used for plastic pallets. A pallet mold is made from steel or aluminum and molten plastic is forced into the mold, creating the desired pallet. While this method of manufacturing pallets is more expensive to set up, the resulting pallets are very strong and typically have a longer life.

Wood pallets, new or recycled, are the most commonly used and come in a variety of sizes and configurations. While the pallet design with stringers is the most common, wooden pallets used as skids or with a block design are also an important part of pallet manufacturing. With a modestly priced pallet machine, these cross beam or “stock” pallets, with a standard size of 48 inches (about 122 cm) by 40 inches (about 106 cm), can be produced in a small one-person shop .

A pallet company large enough to supply pallets for major industrial companies often makes custom pallet manufacturing available for their customers. Custom pallet manufacturing might include sizes, materials, or configurations to meet the specific needs of a large customer. A pallet machine, using wood or plastic, might be dedicated to a one-off product in a large pallet manufacturing company, where a small pallet assembly plant couldn’t afford it.

Producing pallets for international shipping has additional requirements. The international phytosanitary measure known as ISPM 15 requires pallet manufacturers to ensure that no harmful pests travel with the pallet. Plastic pallets automatically comply with ISPM 15, but wooden pallets must be heat treated or fumigated, requiring additional steps in the production of these pallets.

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