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  • Visit Booth # 1700 at the Expo Pack Show

    by Columbia Palletizers | Jun 18, 2014

    Find answers to your palletizing, load transfer and system questions at booth #1700 at the Expo Pack Show this week! For more information about the Expo Pack Show click here.

    Expo Pack Booth 1700
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  • Watch Columbia’s New Systems Integration Video

    by Columbia Palletizers | May 08, 2014

    Columbia Machine recently completed a successful installation in Dallas, TX at the Barcel USA plant. This was a turnkey designed, supplied and installed solution that included 5 Columbia HL2000 High Level Palletizers and all the system components. The system integration included Hytrol's infeed case conveyors, 5 Ryson spiral elevators, Prime Conveyor's empty and full load pallet conveyors, a Phoenix ring stretch wrapper, extensive operator platform, pallet handling controls, electrical and mechanical installation and on-site project management.

    Watch the video for a tour of the complete palletizing system.



    For more information on Columbia’s System Integration capabilities click here.

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  • Columbia Machine Hosts Bring Your Child to Work Day

    by Columbia Palletizers | Apr 25, 2014

    Columbia Machine planned a fun filled event for the kids, grand-kids, nieces and nephews of all the employees at Columbia Machine. The kids followed an order from beginning to end learning how domestic orders differ from international orders. The tour included stops at Marketing, Sales, Accounting, Engineering, Fabrication, Palletizer Assembly and Shipping. 

    Children at Columbia Machine celebrating Bring Your Child to Work event

    We hope this event helped show the kids the many opportunities available in the manufacturing industry.

    Thank you to everyone who helped made this a special day at Columbia!

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  • Congratulations to Blue Diamond Growers

    by Columbia Palletizers | Apr 23, 2014

    Blue Diamond selected Columbia Machine to provide and integrate a multi-line palletizing system with the goal of not only meeting their current packaging needs, but also with the capacity and flexibility to handle future production growth.

    Blue Diamond Growers Palletizer

    The palletizing system Columbia delivered receives products from three production lines feeding into a single HL6000 high-level palletizer. Each line included a spiral elevator and case accumulation conveyors; at the discharge of the palletizer, a full load pallet conveyor system tracked, accumulated and conveyed full loads of each SKU to a centralized stretch wrapper. 

    In addition to these components, Columbia also provided the controls hardware and software to operate the system. Individual PLCs were used to control each sub-system and they were interfaced using Ethernet communication for reporting to the host computer. Columbia Machine accommodated Blue Diamond’s ability to expand when needed by providing a flexible packaging line that allows a fourth production line to be added using the existing Columbia HL6000. 

    To read the full article click here.

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  • 2014 Safety BBQ - Columbia Palletizer Blog

    by Columbia Machine | Apr 17, 2014

    Today Columbia Machine & Columbia/Okura LLC celebrated a record setting injury free length of time!  For over 6 months, not a single time loss injury has been recorded.  Also, we celebrate 176 days without any recordable injuries.  This perfect record extends back to 2013 and we are positive that we can keep our impressive safety trend going. We honored our employees for their efforts with a catered BBQ by Famous Dave’s Restaurant.  It was a great opportunity to gather as a company and recognize our achievement.  Safety is priority number one for Columbia.  Whether it be in one of our facilities or in a customer’s plant, we strive to create the safest environment we can. Keep up the good work.

    Safety doesn’t happen by accident. 

    Safety BBQ

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  • MODEX 2014

    by Columbia Machine | Mar 18, 2014

    Be sure to come by and see Columbia's LTS (Load Transfer Station) demo at MODEX Booth #9327!

    MODEX 2014

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  • Go Hawks!

    by Columbia Palletizers | Jan 31, 2014
    Columbia Machine's "Super Bowl Spirit Day" was a great success! We're looking forward to the game on Sunday! Go Hawks!!

    Go Hawks
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  • Visit Columbia Machine at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium

    by Columbia Palletizers | Jan 22, 2014
    Find your palletizing solution in Booth #1606 at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium January 29th & 30that the Sacramento Convention Center.

    Columbia Machine at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
     
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  • Happy Thanksgiving

    by Columbia Machine | Nov 27, 2013
    Columbia Machine, Inc. wishes you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.

    Happy Thanksgiving from Columbia
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  • McDougall & Sons: Streamlining Pallet Handling

    by Columbia Palletizers | Oct 29, 2013

    “The machine is worth its weight in gold.” Says Dave Whaley, Assistant Supervisor, from McDougall & Sons. What machine? You might be asking yourself. It is Columbia Machine’s Load Transfer Station.

    McDougall & Sons is a fruit distributor located in Wenatchee, WA – the heart of apple country. In a single year they handle over 2 million cases of apples and 600,000 cases of cherries. The challenge they faced in 2011 was the need to transfer the pallet load of fruit from their in-house pallet to a shipping pallet.  The in-house pallet is slightly larger to allow for corner boards to be used so that they can stack three pallet loads of product on top of one another. This method of stacking saves them on the cost and space of racking. When a load of product needs to go out to the customer the product needs to be transferred from their in-house pallet onto a CHEP, Airway or 4-way pallet for transportation.

    The current method that they used was no longer reliable. It took up to 3 people to complete a transfer of product and at times the bottom boards of the pallet would damage the bottom layer of product. When this damage took place, the trucking company was often held liable for the damaged product. This was making for an inefficient process and unhappy truck drivers.

    Load Transfer Station Transferring Apple Cases

    “With a Columbia Load Transfer Station, McDougall & Sons has seen a huge increase in efficiency within the transferring process – now we are able to easily transfer up to 300 pallets per day during peak season.” says Don Bellinger the Shipping Manager at McDougall & Sons.  “Not only is it a good machine, but we were able to easily install the LTS ourselves and have not had any need for service support.”

    For more information on pallet transfer stations visit www.loadtransfer.net

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  • Q&A: How the HL7200 leads in safety, flexibility and performance

    by Columbia Palletizers | Oct 23, 2013

    Packaging Digest’s Executive Editor, Lisa McTigue Pierce, interviewed Columbia Machine’s Sales Director, Ted Yeigh, to better understand how Columbia’s new HL7200 High Speed, Inline Palletizer is leading the palletizer industry in safety, flexibility and performance.

    Question: Why have you focused on designing an industry-leading safety package for the new HL7200 high speed, inline palletizer?

    Answer:
    Safety is a very high priority for Columbia Machine and obviously for our customers too.  Three or four years ago, Columbia Machine made Category 3 Safety components standard on our entire product line.  We were starting to see more and more customer specifications calling for Cat 3.  When items are quoted as an option, they are more expensive than if that same content becomes part of a standard package.  Yes the base price goes up some when the content expands but not nearly as much as if that same content is included as an option.

    Two things came together when discussing the features of the HL7200: First, it makes sense to offer machinery with the latest available technology. Second, we knew there was already a demand and acceptance for machinery equipped with more safety content.

    The demands for high throughput and increased OEE led us to include additional safety components - the necessary components to allow for OSHA compliant “Minor Servicing”.  Minor Servicing is defined as “operations that are considered routine, repetitive and integral to the normal operation of the machine”.  When combined, these factors provide the latest in safety components and methodology adding tremendous value for the end user.

    Question:
    How is the layer table more configurable than competitive models?

    Answer:
      Flexibility was also one of the cornerstones of the development parameters for this palletizer.  The digitally controlled lane positioners are programmable through the HMI and allow the two outside lanes on each side of the laner to move to pre-programmed locations.  This means that when a new product is created or there is a change to an existing package, a new layer pattern can be programmed in a matter of minutes without the need to hire a service tech. The layer table can be equipped with segmented pop up “stops” that allows for better control of the cases on the layer table.

    Question: What prompts and/or help does the system provide to optimize pallet patterns based on case and pallet sizes?

    Answer: Patterns can be added or modified through the HMI.  It is important to understand the layer patterns are generally created long before the product is run on a palletizer (they are entered into or programmed at the palletizer).  The Packaging Engineers usually create the layer patterns while the primary and secondary packing is being designed, factoring in total load size desired by their customers, warehousing / distribution capabilities, load stability, shipping efficiencies etc.  The palletizer is programmed to do what you tell it to do.  It is not designed to “think” of an alternate pattern.  An enhanced HMI package is available that includes graphical layer pattern creation software like Topps or Cape that is accessible via the HMI and via Ethernet.  With the enhanced package, alternate patterns can be suggested but it would not recommend an optimized pattern.

    Question: What is the Smart Squeeze technology and how does it work?

    Answer:
    “Smart Squeeze” is included on all Columbia palletizers.  As part of the recipe for a given SKU or product ID, the side squeezers (layer conditioners) are programmed to go to a certain position on each layer.  If the side squeezers don’t get to their pre-programmed position within a certain amount of time, the palletizer will go in to a controlled stop mode and provide feedback to the operator, through the HMI and stack light, that attention to the layer formation may be required.  What this does is alert the operator that a down-time event has occurred, likely due to an improperly orientated case.  The advantage here is that this can be corrected before a compromised layer is formed causing a potentially longer and messier stoppage later in the palletizing process.  Smart Squeeze also helps to minimize product damage and increase overall uptime and throughput by raising OEE.   

    Visit the HL7200 product page for more information and or the video below.

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  • STEM Fest 2013 Recap

    by Columbia Palletizers | Oct 17, 2013

    Columbia Machine was honored to take part in the first annual STEM Fest that the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council (SWWDC) hosted September 20th to 22nd. The goal of STEM Fest is to introduce students to career paths within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

    More than 50 local organizations came together to provide hands-on activities, field trips, tours, presentations, contests and experiments to more than 1,800 K-12 students, parents and teachers; opening their eyes to the potential career choices including scientists, engineers or mathematicians.

    STEM Fest Group

    During the visit at Columbia Machine, the students were divided into teams of 10 with the task to manually palletize cases on a pallet. Part of the challenge was determining how to make all 60 boxes fit onto a pallet, creating an interlocking pattern.

    STEM Fest Challenge

    By the end of the day the students had a better understanding of a local companies need for engineers, welders, machinists, fabricators and assemblers within the Palletizer Division at Columbia Machine.

    For more information about STEM Fest visit http://www.stem-fest.com

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  • Pack Expo Recap

    by Columbia Palletizers | Oct 11, 2013

    It was great seeing everyone at the PACK Expo Show this year!  The Columbia Machine & Columbia/Okura booth was packed full of exciting equipment... Columbia Machine featured the new HL7200 high speed, inline palletizer and a 1/8th scale size LTS to easily show the pallet transfer process. Columbia/Okura demonstrated the flexibility of their A1800 Robotic Palletizer.

    The NEW HL7200 high speed, inline palletizer incorporates the industry-leading safety package, ultimate flexibility and highest performance.  Of special note was the fully integrated upper level guarding including trapped key components. Columbia’s HL7200 will easily palletize 72 - 120 cases per minute (depending on pattern).

    Columbia/Okura’s high speed model A1800 robotic palletizer demonstrated its flexibility by handling bags, cases and trays in a pick and place formation. The system is programmed using the company’s easy-to-use (OXPA) pallet pattern software. 

    The Load Transfer Station transfers product from one load base type to another; including wood to in-house “clean” pallets, plastic to wood, or other combinations including pallet to slip sheet. There are over 600 Columbia LTS units installed in a variety of industries including food processing, pharmaceutical, beverage and warehousing and distribution centers.

    During the show, Ted Yeigh, our Sales Director, was interviewed for Packaging World’s Pack Expo Wrap-Up Newsletter.  This video provides a great introduction to the HL7200.

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  • New HL7200 High Speed, Inline Palletizer

    by Columbia Palletizers | Sep 19, 2013
    Columbia Machine is redefining the “High Speed Palletizing” market with the launch of the NEW HL7200 High Speed, Inline Palletizer.  This is the first in a family of high-level, high speed palletizers that Columbia Machine will introduce this year. The HL7200 high speed palletizer incorporates industry-leading safety package, ultimate flexibility and highest performance level in a robust and reliable palletizer that is easy to operate.
     
    New HL7200 High Speed, Inline Palletizer

    Columbia’s industry-leading safety package includes Category 3 electrical safety components including dual channel safety interlocks and full height light curtains positioned on the full load discharge and empty pallet infeed. A dual slot automatic hoist pin latching system on the full load hoist and pallet dispenser hoist provide a redundant fail-safe protection system. Fully integrated upper and lower guarding with viewing panels and multiple access doors that incorporate a trapped key door access system provide the safety and function that meets OSHA requirements for Minor Servicing.
     
    The HL7200 provides the ultimate in flexibility by incorporating Columbia’s new programmable laner technology with Columbia’s proven soft turn and configurable layer table to provide accurate and stable layer forming. Columbia is the first in the conventional inline palletizer industry to provide an HMI where the operator can create new patterns or modify existing patterns via the HMI. This combination makes the HL7200 ideal for reliable handling of current and future package types and sizes.
     
    Maximum performance is found 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with Columbia’s HL7200 while accurately palletizing 72 to 120 cases per minute (depending on pattern). There are many standard features that make this palletizer the easiest to operate in the industry: Minor Servicing, dropped case detection, Smart Squeeze technology, multi-colored light stack to show machine status at a glance and advanced diagnostics and I/O status screens quickly communicate to the operator the status of the machine.
     
    Visit Booth # C-718 at Pack Expo to see the HL7200 in action!
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  • Visit Pack Expo Booth # C-718

    by Columbia Palletizers | Sep 17, 2013

    Columbia Machine will reveal a new palletizer at Pack Expo Las Vegas, booth #C-718. Through continuous innovation Columbia has created the most complete palletizer line in North America. Columbia's product line includes leading technology like it's Hybrid Palletizers, FL1000-SW with integrated stretch wrapper and a full range of floor level, high level and robotic palletizing solutions.

    Visit Pack Expo Booth #C-718

    Visit www.palletizing.com/pack-expo to learn more...
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  • What is FSMA and how can a Columbia LTS help?

    by Columbia Palletizers | Aug 09, 2013

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011.  What does this mean for food processing and handling facilities?  Those facilities, throughout the supply chain, will be required to develop processes for hazard analysis and risk-based preventative controls.  The FSMA states that these companies must “have a Food Protection Plan that contains suitable preventative controls, a monitoring program, and records to show how a company is guarding food against both intentional and unintentional contamination and significantly minimizing risks.  Controls must be in place for any reasonably foreseeable biological, chemical, physical or radiological hazard that may be associated with the food or the food facility.”

    For food, the cGMPs in Section 110.40, Subpart C require safe handling to prevent cross contamination via all equipment used in manufacturing—either equipment that comes into direct contact with food, or those which are present in the processing area, such as pallets. The FDA specifically recommends avoiding wood pallets in processing altogether.

    LTS Transferring Wood Pallet to Plastic Pallet

    So, how exactly should a food or pharmaceutical manufacturer transfer bulk ingredients from wood to plastic or aluminum pallets prior to sending the ingredients into the processing area? There are a variety of methodologies available. The three most commonly employed technologies are:

    • Load shunting device
    • Load inverters
    • Load transfer stations

    Of the three methods listed, the Load Transfer Stations from Columbia Machine are considered cleaner, safer and faster than the other pallet transferring devices, including the load inverters. To learn more about Columbia’s load transfer solutions visit www.loadtransfer.net.

    To learn more about the FSMA and options for transferring bulk ingredients, click here to read Columbia Machine’s white paper “How Automating Your Receiving Process Helps with FSMA Compliance.”

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  • What is a Load Transfer Station?

    by Columbia Palletizers | Jun 11, 2013

    Load Transfer Stations are designed to gently move a full pallet load from one pallet to another, typically utilizing hydraulic power, without disturbing the original orientation of the load. They can be stand-alone or tie into new or existing upstream and downstream equipment.

    Semi-automatic Load Transfer Station models are loaded and unloaded by forklift.  During the first part of the transfer process, the load slides off of the go from pallet on to a steel transfer plate.  At this time, the original pallet is automatically stored in an indexing up-stacker.  Once the go to pallet is in position, the steel transfer plate slides out from under the load and the load is then gently placed on to the go to pallet.  

    Semi-Automatic Load Transfer Station

    Fully Automatic Load Transfer Stations may include a pallet stacker, pallet dispenser, infeed conveyor and a powered outfeed cart. These load transfer stations receive loads from a conveyor, transfer the load from one load base to another, stack the original pallet, and automatically discharge the transferred load onto an outfeed cart. This transfer process is ideal for applications that support automatic load storage in a high-rise automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), downstream pick up by a lift truck or routing via conveyor to another operation.

    Fully Automatic Load Transfer Station

    Because they are automated, performing the same function over and over in cycle times as fast as one minute, Columbia Machine load transfer stations deliver the highest throughput of all the pallet transfer options. All Columbia Machine LTS models include remote or pendant controls, allowing a forklift operator to safely remain inside the cab during the entire transfer process. Machine-mounted protective guarding (to shield personnel from contact with the machine or pallet load of product during the transfer process) is a standard feature.

    Further, safety devices—such as interlocked door switches and light curtains— with redundant, fail-safe Category 3 electrical safety components to ensure that the devices operate properly, even in the event of a circuit failure; and multiple emergency stops are included on all Columbia Machine Load Transfer Station models.  

    Request a copy of Columbia Machine’s white paper: Why Automated Pallet Load Transfer Provides the Best Handling Practice to learn more about transfer options.

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  • “Automated Palletizers, emphasize flexibility, safety” feature article in MMH

    by Columbia Palletizers | Apr 15, 2013

    Recently Columbia Machine was featured in an article in Modern Materials Handling, written by Sara Pearson Specter that sheds light on the recent packaging trends and how they are increasing the need for automated palletizing solutions. A link to the article is here: Automated Palletizers, emphasize flexibility, safety

    FL3000-R Floor Level, High Speed Hybrid Palletizer

    The article touches on the benefits of an in-line, floor level hybrid palletizer and how combining the flexibility of a robotic arm with the simplicity of a conventional palletizer is a growing trend for many high speed palletizing applications.

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  • Advantages to Robotic Palletizers

    by Columbia Palletizers | Apr 04, 2013

    The main difference between a conventional palletizer and a robotic palletizer is the robotic palletizer uses an end of arm tool (also known as a gripper or end effector) to pick up the package from the infeed conveyor and places it onto the pallet. Depending on the style of end of arm tool, the robot can pick a single package or multiple packages at once – sometimes even a full layer. Today, there are four types of robotic palletizers: Cartesian, SCARA, articulated and gantry.

    Cartesian robotic palletizers are ideally suited for slower production lines where palletization does not exceed 10 picks per minute and where the products have similar weights and sizes. 
    Cartesian Robotic Palletizer

    SCARA (Selective Compliant Articulated Robot Arm) robotic palletizers are ideally suited for palletizing from one to three production lines at a total rate of 20 picks per minute and where the product weight does not exceed 40 lbs.

    Scara Robotic Palletizer

    Articulated robotic palletizers are capable of palletizing up to four (sometimes 5) lines at a time. When palletizing from a single production line, the articulated robot can handle products that are 50 to 60 lbs. at a rate of 25 per minute (single picked). 

    Articulated Robotic Palletizer

    Gantry robotic palletizers have the advantage of being able to palletize a large number of SKUs simultaneously, but are considered to be the slowest of the robotic palletizers. Typically the gantry robot has a larger footprint and a much high price tag.  

    Gantry Robotic Palletizer

    For more information on robotic palletizers, request the free Science of Palletizing book. 


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  • Advantages to High Level Palletizers - Columbia Palletizer Blog

    by Columbia Palletizers | Mar 26, 2013

    As you have probably guessed, high level palletizers are machines that have an infeed elevation higher than the low level palletizers.  The infeed elevation on a high level palletizer is typically between 100” to 144”.

    Operation of a High Level Palletizer

    A high level palletizer works similar to the operation of a low level palletizer. The product comes in via the infeed conveyor to a turning device that rotates the product into the correct orientation and conveys into the row forming section. Once a completed row is formed, the row is pushed onto the layer forming area.  This layer forming area can be a plate or an apron depending on the style used by the palletizer manufacturer. Unlike floor level palletizers which lift the layer forming section to the top of the partially built pallet load, high level palletizers raise the pallet or partial pallet load to the layer forming section. Once a complete pallet load is built, the entire load is lowered to the discharge elevation and then conveyed out of the machine. A discharge elevation for high level machines is similar to floor level palletizers and is between 18” and 30”. 

    High Level Palletizer

    Advantages to High Level Palletizers include:

    1. A high level palletizer has a higher throughput relative to the size of the footprint, using production facility floor space more efficiently.

    1. For high speed applications above 40 or 50 cases per minute, a high level palletizer becomes the obvious choice regardless of the case packer or case sealer discharge elevation.

    1. High level palletizers have a smaller footprint than some low level palletizers due to the layer forming section being positioned over the top of the load building area.

    1. When the palletizer is located some distance from the case packer or case sealer, the higher elevation of the case conveyor feeding the palletizer allows for greater flexibility in plant layout and flow; for example allowing clearance over fork lift aisles.

    For more information on palletizers, request the free Science of Palletizing book. 


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