When a consumer opens up a cup of yogurt, she might not realize how well-traveled that food is. That cup, and thousands like it, has moved quite a bit, not counting the miles between the distribution center and the supermarket.

The trip starts within the dairy processing plant. Most likely, conveyors (not human labor) moved an empty cup from a staging area to the filling line, then to a cooling tunnel and finally out to a palletizing station where it was conveyed to a refrigerated warehouse to await pick-up for the DC.

Other dairy foods and beverages undergo similar journeys. Plant managers rely on conveyors and palletizing equipment that is fast, efficient, easy to maintain and does not break down. Manufacturers will be showing their equipment and talking about logistics solutions at PackExpo in Chicago in October. (See our related article on page 70.) On these pages, we look at equipment from various suppliers.

With quick line changeovers becoming more prevalent, companies are looking at automation to avoid downtime and gain efficiencies. Alvey Robotics from Intelligrated operate on industry-standard controls. This enables processors to deploy efficient and repeatable robotics solutions that seamlessly integrate with other line equipment. By maintaining a familiar control platform, existing personnel can support these Intelligrated robotic applications without being “robotic experts.”

Alvey robotics system capabilities include EOATs, case unscramblers, automated pallet or sheet dispensers, infeed conveyors for single or multiple lines, full-load pallet discharge conveyors, sortation solutions, advanced PLC control systems, vision systems as well as stretchwrapper integration.

Container Handling Systems Corp. has a new automatic servo-driven low level de-palletizer. Model 1000(AC)-60 is said to be rugged and competitively priced. The servo-driven system provides improved flexibility in the range of layer heights that can be accommodated, as well as improved accuracy in layer incrementing with heavy loads, such as full height pallets of glass bottles.

Dairy processors can expect to see improved reliability through the reduction in the controls complexity because many of the positioning controls required with conventional systems have been eliminated. The system provides floor level depalletizing without the need for operator platforms and container lowerators. It comes standard with a four-point pallet lifting platform, servo driven main elevator, wide way pallet handling and other features.

Lorenz Pan’s M-6 freezer duty case palletizer has been installed in many North American companies. It is designed to be simple to operate and maintain, while reducing floor space and electrical consumption. The M-6 case palletizer was designed from the ground up to operate in freezers. The palletizer has special electrical cables, control systems, gearboxes, motors, and power transmission components, all engineered for low temperatures.

The palletizer’s sub-assemblies and components are rigorously tested. Because of its layer-by-layer design, a single palletizer can often palletize multiple lines at speeds in the range of 25 cases per minute. The layer-by-layer machine requires the case conveyor to accumulate only one layer per line.

American Conveyor has extended its end-of-line packaging integration technology to palletizing. The company offers a total systems approach (from processing to palletizing) with real-time capacity and logistical management of multiple SKUs. There is a solution for processors conveying individual containers and cases, on up to pallets.

The latest line of standard palletizers from Schneider Packaging Equipment (www.schneiderequip.com) is built to simplify the palletizing of cases, trays, display packs, bundles, bags and bulk product. These palletizers are said to offer affordability while maintaining flexibility, rapid changeover, low-cost operation and overall small form factors. Ideal for single or multiple lines and/or multiple SKUs, the efficient designs utilize cost-effective features and are offered in a variety of configurations tailored to the application, plant conditions and operating environment.