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     Ed Healy, operations director at John Rock, Inc., of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, imagines that robotics may be a factor in the future but, for the right now, their mill produces an average of 17,000 pallets per 12 hour shift with well-planned automation for their customers in the Northeast.

     John Rock, Inc. installed their first M2L Stacker and Unscrambler in 2006. Since then, the mill has added three more. “My primary job focus is studying and improving the process of our operation,” stated Healy. “Quite simply, when we are not cutting wood and nailing it together efficiently, we are not making money.” The saw lines at John Rock are built specifically for the pallet industry running kiln-dried pine, poplar, maple, oak, and some aspen as cut stock.

    Healy explains, “The management and production team looked critically at all the reasons that could make the saw stop. We already had a stacker at the end of the cant line that kept up with throughput. Working out the numbers, it made sense to replace the operators at turntables at the end of the board lines with a stacker. It was a sensible way to avoid a potential bottleneck and reduce our labor costs by one operator on each of our four lines.”

    There is still one operator pulling culls from the chain line but, over time, the M2L stacker has more than paid for itself. “The stacker has helped us accomplish two things-overall we have increased volume through the saw and we are doing it with less labor. The stackers have been running for years with little downtime and primarily normal maintenance issues.”