For over 30 years the leading pallet and sawmill magazine in America.
Viking Turns 40 – Its Machinery Has Been the Growth Engine for Many Industry Leaders
Viking Turns 40: Major supplier of nailing machines lets its customers explain how Viking equipment has fueled the growth for both small and large pallet operations. Test site for new Viking 606 explains the benefits and progress of this new innovative design.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 1/1/2015
Viking Turns 40
Major supplier of nailing machines lets its customers explain how Viking equipment has fueled the growth for both small and large pallet operations. Test site explains the benefits of new Viking 606 design.
Since the company produced its first Viking Duo-Matic in 1975, Viking Engineering & Development has been manufacturing nailing machines that have revolutionized the wooden pallet industry in North America and around the globe. And as the company turns 40, a number of customers share their insights on Viking, its equipment, people and service that make the company a market leader.
Express Pallets & Crates
Top quality machinery is the reason that Express Pallets & Crates of Deception Bay, Queensland, Australia has worked with Viking for about 10 years. As the company moved from hand-built pallets to automation, Express could have worked with almost any global machinery supplier. But it chose Viking due to the performance for the money.
David Steven, the general manager of Express, commented, “Viking has helped us greatly to produce a product quickly. It is a good reliable machine. It has given us opportunity to produce products at a speed that the market needs.”
Express bought a Viking Champion in 2004 as the company shifted to volume stringer production after a number of large block accounts came to an end. The Viking machinery enabled the company to enter the stringer market and efficiently produce pallets. Its first Viking ran sometimes double and triple shifts to meet the demand.
As the company grew, it upgraded and added new equipment. Express added a Turbo 505 in 2013. The Turbo 505 fit the company’s growing odd-sized pallet business due to its quick changeover times compared to the Champion. Steven explained, “We can manage our production by altering the downtime between different pallets.”
The key to efficient operation is reducing the changeover time by better staging lumber and eliminating downtime through better lumber quality monitoring and sorting. Both machines run in tandem now and can be operated with only five total workers.
Relying on a U.S.-based supplier has not been a problem. Steven added, “Service has never been an issue for us with Viking. We carry recommended stocks of parts and key products. Also, some spare parts are sourceable in Australia.”
Express Pallet has a mechanic on staff who can handle maintenance and repair issues. Express shipping allows parts to get there in 3-4 days. More than just a supplier to North America, Viking has developed a quality reputation around the world when it comes to producing stringer pallets.
Lemuel Amen, the president of Viking, stated, “Viking nailing machines have become a standard in the market because they are tremendous growth tools that have helped many companies in the United States and around the world become successful.”
Tasler Inc. – Using the Next Generation Viking 606
Production is the name of the game at Tasler Inc., a pallet manufacturer and recycler headquartered in Webster City, Iowa.
Back in 1992, Tasler bought its first Viking machine, a 504 model. The company sold that in 2000 and bought a used Viking 505. Since then, Tasler has added an additional Turbo 505 in 2004 and this past summer installed a Viking 606.
Tasler is one of the first installations in the world for the Viking 606, which utilizes all new state-of-the-art technology to improve the performance of the nailer as well as the ease of changeover compared to the Turbo 505.
Doug “Jake” Jacobson, the plant manager for Tasler, explained, “The 606 is better than a 505. The changeovers are much quicker, the speed of the machine is much faster. There are times if you crank up the production that you can barely get people who can feed it fast enough.”
Tasler has recorded production highs ranging between 1800-1900 in one run with one changeover on an 8-hour shift. Jacobson said, “The 606 will nail a typical GMA in almost three full seconds faster than a 505. And that ads up when you think of 12 months of production.”
He stated that the 606 has about a 9.9 second cycle to produce a GMA pallet compared to almost twelve seconds on a Turbo 505.
Although the 606 is brand new technology, the concepts behind the design are solid even though there have been some bugs that Viking has had to work out with the first installations, according to Jacobson. He added, “We knew going in that it was a first generation machine and that there would be some bugs, but Viking has addressed all of those concerns as they arose.”
The 606 machine has been completely redesigned compared to the 505. Jacobson said, “The ease of changeover is incredible. The nail chucks all move in unison on a rail system versus taking your Allen wrench and removing nuts and bolts to manually make changes. You don’t have to change libraries. Everything is stored in the machine.”
For those who like remote monitoring and Internet connectivity, Viking has enabled the 606 to integrate with smartphones and other smart devices. Jacobson explained, “The technology will tell you what pallet is being run, the current production, how many times your crew stopped the machine, what gates were opened when the machine was stopped, those sort of things.”
Currently, Tasler is running the 606 and two 505s and would run another machine if it could get the wood and personnel to make everything run right. The 606 has a lot of improvements, such as a new way to drive nails faster and sensors to spot raised nails.
Beyond the equipment, Viking has stood behind its machinery. Jacobson commented, “What we value most about Viking is its service. We are fortunate in that we are three hours away…Viking has been quick to get somebody here the same day or within a day or so when we had any problems.”
Sometimes Viking has had to go beyond what most suppliers would offer in terms of top-level service. Jacobson remembered a time when Tasler had to move a 505 from one building to another. In order to meet production requirements, the changes were done over a weekend.
Jacobson explained, “The Viking technicians and support staff drove through a blizzard and worked through Thanksgiving to do an equipment changeover. That is dedication.”
Viking machinery has helped propel Tasler forward as one of the largest pallet companies in the Midwest. Jacobson stated, “We couldn’t have been as successful as we have been without the Viking machines. The Viking capabilities increase our production beyond what other options allow for when you consider U.S.-based nailing equipment suppliers. There is nothing out there that is as versatile with the nailing capacity of the Viking machines.”
Fox Valley Wood Products
Reliable service and support has kept Fox Valley Wood Products in Kaukauna, Wisconsin a loyal Viking customer for 23 years. Fox Valley owned a Viking Duo-Matic for 19 years and ran it until the machine just wouldn’t keep up. It added two Champion nailers over the years, and four years ago, the company bought a new Viking 505 Turbo.
Dale Van Zeeland, vice president and owner of Fox Valley, said, “Viking is an ESOP company, and it shows through the dedication of its staff. The service is very good, and the machines are like the Cadillac of nailing machines when it comes to production.”
Van Zeeland added, “The Viking call center has always been very good. A lot of times I would call them late on a Friday, and they would find a solution so that we were ready to go on Monday morning.”
Viking’s machinery are growth tools for pallet companies. Van Zeeland estimated, “Our sales could be 30% less or more without these machines. Viking helps enable our sales growth.”
Van Zeeland explained, “The pallet business is all about production and you have to be efficient. And the Viking machines help us keep our efficiencies up.”
Fox Valley does standard pallets on the Turbo and specialty sizes on the Champion because it can efficiently produce smaller pallet designs.
One big key Fox Valley has found in making the machines run well is having the right operator. Van Zeeland said, “The machine is only as good as the people who are running it. You need to keep some of your best people on the Viking to ensure lumber is continuously feeding the machine.”
Being a third-generation business, Fox Valley understands the importance of delivering on your promises. And as Viking turns 40, it has become the standard for stringer pallet production in North America through strong service and consistent operation. The company has sold over 2,500 wood assembly systems serving the pallet & container, wall panel construction, and bed & sleep system industries. The oldest machine still in service today is a Viking Duo-Matic produced in 1977.
Celebrating 40 years of service to the industry is a great milestone for Viking. It has developed a strong position in the marketplace by offering top-notch service, proven, high-production machines, and high-quality fasteners.
Amen explained, “Viking’s success is truly a team effort, with everyone dedicated to product excellence and outstanding customer service. The pallet, wood, and fastener industries provided our start, and we have strived to continue being an innovative supplier to customers around the world. These strong relationships and loyalty have provided the fuel over the past 40 years and will continue to give value to our efforts for years to come.”
For more information on the Viking line, see the sidebar on page 16 or visit www.vikingeng.com.
Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Viking Nailing Machine
Technicians and experts at Viking share insights on best operational practices for Viking nailing machines.
1. Utilize Viking’s field service technicians and call center with over 100 years combined experience. They are the best resource for answering your machine questions.
2. Use Genuine Viking parts to keep your machine running at its best.
3. Genuine Viking nails are guaranteed to run trouble free in your machine. Make sure to use a quality nail, such as the Viking brand.
4. Perform preventative maintenance on your machine to increase uptime. Follow the suggestions in your machinery manual.
5. Keep your machine and surrounding areas clean to prevent fires and other damage to your machine. This will also help improve safety.
6. New machine owners should read the manuals and be up-to-date on their parts book.
7. To maximize uptime, maintain a steady level of spare parts in your shop.
8. Maximize resale value by keeping your machine a genuine Viking system (i.e. no personal modifications or other add-ons).
9. To better manage maintenance time, utilize Viking upgrade kits to keep all your machinery operating on the same platform.
10. Priority #1 for all pallet makers is safe & productive operation of the machinery. Treat all your equipment with respect, and it will work for you for years to come.
Viking Machinery Lineup
Turbo 606 (Newest Machine)
The Turbo 606 introduces the latest in remote monitoring technology, this allows for real-time machine production data to be accessed via many devices. Teamed with the latest technology and quickest changeovers, the 606 has the capability of building upwards of 2000+ pallets/shift with three operators. Engineered for reliable performance and longevity, the 606 offers the best combination of speed and innovation to take your pallet business to the next level.
With production capabilities upwards of 1800 pallets/shift, the Turbo 505® is the go-to tandem nailer in the pallet industry. Proven technology and an industry workhorse, the 505 is engineered to provide high output, low maintenance, and quick changeovers with fast mechanical setup, only requiring three operators. Powered by the Turbo Pro Plus Data™ software, operators can monitor real-time information to make better decisions improving quality production and efficiencies.
Champion QC306 or Champion 304A Classic
With the ability to use recycled and low grade lumber, the Viking Champion Series are single operator systems that have the capabilities of producing upwards of 500-600 pallets/shift. The flexibility of both the QC306 and 304A Classic allows for optional block pallet production, extended pallet sizes, and wood quality variance. While the QC306 offers quick changeover capabilities, the 304A Classic is ideal for single set-up long production runs.
Having an infinite variety of nailing patterns, the Skute™ is Viking’s most versatile machine. With an expandable working surface of 20 x 5 feet, operators are able to design their own jigging to accommodate many product specifications. Whether you are producing box crates, skids, or other specialty products, the Skute allows for easy set-ups to meet end-user demands.