Case stacks up for new dual crate destacker

Brillopak has launched a new Dual Crate DESTAKer for feeding empty retail crates to food packing lines at high speed with maximum flexibility. Based on the same proven operating principle as the original Crate DESTAKer system, the new Dual Crate DESTAKer destacks two stacks simultaneously, enabling handling of 18 crates per minute and servicing of multiple packing lines.

Brillopak’s Crate DESTAKers are employed in packing facilities for food products ranging from fresh fruit and veg to meat, baked goods and pizzas. The innovative system is prized for the unrivalled flexibility and reliability it offers versus the competition, thanks to a game-changing operating principle; rather than picking up the entire stack and relying on gravity to despatch the bottom crate, the Crate DESTAKers clamps the bottom crate down, lifts the rest of the stack up, and then despatches the bottom crate.

In a typical packing hall set-up, crates are transported to the line via forklift by the pallet load (usually around 30 to 40 crates high). The pallet load is pushed onto an accumulation conveyor that feeds stacks (usually five crates) into the crate destacker, leaving operators free to focus on other tasks while the machine continues to destack onto the line.

Unique operating principle

The Crate DESTAKer uses pneumatic clamps to grip both the bottom crate and the upper (remaining) section of the stack. The upper clamp is powered by two servo motors, which lift the crates up to enable the bottom crate to be moved out of the stack and indexed into the downstream automated crate packing system. The use of servo motors makes the destacking system infinitely adjustable – the operator can change between crate sizes, change the speed at which the system accelerates and decelerates and alter the height to which the stack is lifted – all via the system’s user-friendly HMI.

Crates never get stuck

Brillopak’s innovative approach to crate destacking has several advantages; one problem encountered with conventional systems is that when releasing the bottom crate sometimes the one above comes with it because the two are stuck together. On the Crate DESTAKer this is never an issue as they are automatically separated when the bottom crate is clamped. In addition, the clamps on the Crate DESTAKer have PU (polyurethane) faces to prevent damage to the crates. This is in contrast to the metal teeth that some rival systems use.

Servo-motion for unmatched flexibility

This design also means the process is inherently more flexible; whereas most crate destackers can only handle individual crates, the bottom clamping unit on the Crate DESTAKer is adjustable, so factories can easily switch to dispensing two or three crates at a time, if required. This can be desirable for high speed packing halls operating multiple lines; rather than conveying crates individually around the hall at very high speeds, crates can be sent in stacks of two or three at much lower speeds, then destacked at the entrance to the packing system, via a second ‘mini’ destacking module.

“Food packing operations rarely give much consideration to the crate destacking operation, but the design of this system can have an important bearing on overall line efficiency. If crates get stuck together, the line might have to be halted and operators will have to intervene to manually separate them before packing can continue. Large packing halls with multiple lines in particular will reap the efficiency rewards of a more flexible crate destacking operation,” explains Peter Newman, Technical Director at Brillopak.

Dual stacks, double speed

In its original single stack configuration, the Crate DESTAKer operates at speeds of 8-9 crates per minute. By lifting two stacks simultaneously, the new Dual Crate DESTAKer is capable of handling 16-18 crates per minute, giving food producers and packers a high output option.

The Crate DESTAKer range of crate destackers can be supplied as a stand-alone system, to integrate with a factory’s existing packing automation system, or in conjunction with Brillopak’s award-winning UniPAKer robot packer, which has revolutionised the packing of bagged fresh produce into crates. In this configuration, crates leave the Crate DESTAKer and are indexed into the UniPAKer cell. The UniPAKer checks the bale arms are fully open before placing bags into the crate (it can happen that the bale arms move out of position and impede the crate packing operation).

Check out the new Dual Crate DESTAKer here: