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Optimised pallet handling

02 September 2019

Danone Waters has opted to make handling pallets of Evian water on platforms safer and more streamlined before being loaded onto trains, through the use of heavy-duty gravity conveyors. 

Around seven million bottles are shipped on the equivalent of 7,000 pallets every day from the Danone site in France, which spans 130,000m2. Around 65% of this is then transported by train, and the remainder is loaded onto trucks.

At the end of the production line, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are able to transport two pallets at a time, weighing up to 1,200kg, to the loading platforms. Accurate to the nearest millimeter, the AGVs place the pallets of water bottles onto heavy-duty gravity conveyors, supplied by Interroll. The gravity lanes direct the pallets to the forklift trucks which pick these up four-by-four for loading onto waiting trains. To ensure the safety of the installation, operators and goods, Interroll's MSC 80 Magnetic Speed Control rollers maintain a constant pallet speed of 0.3m/sec. At the end of the line, and to ensure enhanced operator safety and comfort, a mechanical separation solution enables four pallets to be picked up simultaneously for efficient loading. 

Preparing for this project required Interroll to operate its testing zone in La Roche-sur-Yon at full capacity as EVIAN uses 12 different types of pallets to meet the needs of its global markets. The Interroll solution was technically assessed using a series of tests (speed of the idler rollers, the number of brake rollers required, the position of the separators etc) Interroll's expertise also enabled the company to work with pallet manufacturers to optimise pallet construction and design, to ensure that the pallets rolled optimally on Interroll's heavy-duty gravity conveyor solution. 

The fact that the design of the conveyor solution uses gravity means that the installation does not need to be powered. Apart from a few wear parts, it is also maintenance-free. The operating costs are almost zero. Interroll's gravity conveyors generate no carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This was important for the site which became Danone's first carbon-neutral site in 2017.

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