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Back to Basics: Pallet Repair Tables Can Reduce Worker Fatigue, Improve Productivity
Columnists Clarence Leising and Dick Burns share insights on how best to design a pallet repair table to reduce worker fatigue and injury while boosting productivity.
By Clarence Leising & Dick Burns
Date Posted: 1/1/2011
Some of the most simple things can make a big difference when it comes to running an efficient pallet repair shop. It can be easy to ignore these things because they are so simple.
One of the first things you need is a good working table. Many recyclers will try to use a stack of pallets or table without any consideration to the work flow or design of their operation. This is a big mistake. Your work table can make all the difference when it comes to eliminating wasted motion as well as worker strain.
When it comes to repair tables, you can fashion your own using the directions provided below. Or you can have them custom fabricated to meet your unique needs or work with your machinery supplier to retrofit existing tables and designs on the market.
The repair table should be big enough to allow a pallet to spin around in front of the builder. It should have a cutout where the builder can stand so that the pallet can be a close to the builder as possible. That way, the builder will never have to lift a pallet but will be able to simply slide it onto the table.
A gap of about 30” works well. Think about it. The builder’s working square space is in front of him, and he is standing in the cut out position of the table. The cut out should not be as deep as the square working table. He can lay his bar and his hammer in that area to his side, and he will put his staples or nails behind him.
Above that should be a shelf for half-stringers and directly behind that should be the repair lumber. This bench can be built for one or two men. The two man table should have a divider about 18” high between the men, so that if any nails or staples bounce off the table, they won’t hit the other builder. Ideally, your table should have a slight crown in the middle of it to allow the pallet to spin much easier.
Can you use gun balancers on this type of table? Yes you can. Can you plate at this table? Yes, you can.
When starting with a new table, you want to hang the plater so that it is easy to handle. You also want to be sure that you have everything the builders will need readily accessible. I recommend that you use the “one step” principle. If a builder has to take more than one step to get something. It is too far away.
Consider the type of pallets you will be repairing. Various pallet designs call for different equipment and repair procedures. You want to eliminate unnecessary motion, provide ample leverage, steady the pallet as much as possible, and develop a system that can be efficiently repeated by workers.
One innovative design I saw for block repair involved a table that gripped the pallet so that an operator could cut the blocks out. This design provided additional leverage and allowed the operator to walk around the pallet with a sawzall. The table paneled off to grip the pallet and allowed the operator to do anything he wanted to on one side without turning it over.
Then, you need to make a list of the type of equipment and material that each operator should have. This will be helpful in knowing how to design the work station and bench. Some typical tools for block pallet disassembly include nail guns, pry bars, sawzall, grip die grinder, screw gun, hammer, tape measure, etc. The placement of tools can be critical. Try a lot of different things and see what works best for your operation.
How you setup your benches dictates the flow of product in your operation, the number of forklift drivers you will need and can impact your production potential.