A pallet inverter (also called a pile turner) is a machine used to turn over pallets while they are still loaded with product. Depending on the machine, pallets can be rotated up to 180 degrees. A fixed base frame houses a rotating frame that has a clamp mechanism. The clamp works hydraulically, and the rotation is powered by an electric motor. The loaded pallet is placed in the machine via forklift, and then inverted. A new, replacement pallet is then placed on top, up side down. The forklift is then retracted, and the operator can start the inversion process with a simple push of a button. After inversion, the damaged pallet can be discarded, and then the pallets can be placed back in storage.
There are many reasons for needing to turn over a full pallet. The most common reason is the need to retrieve and replace a broken or inadequate pallet, without having to unpack the entire load. At times, products also need to be transferred from storage pallets to shipping pallets, and vice versa. Sometimes a load of goods can shift, and a pallet inverter allows the load to be righted. They are helpful to the food industry, as wooden pallets can be exchanged for cleaner plastic or steel pallets. In addition, certain goods need to be inverted in order to prevent settling.
Pallet inverters save time and money. Unloading and reloading pallets is time consuming and costly. Without a pallet inverter, a company must pay its manpower to transfer the goods from pallet to pallet. This ties up the workers, and also puts them at risk for injury. The double handling of the product increases the chance for damages to occur as well. A pallet inverter can be a stand alone machine, but it can also be incorporated into an assembly line to assist with a system of pallet inversion and transfer. A one time purchase of this type of machine can be a wise investment for any company that must accept and ship goods on pallets.
Even delicate goods can be safely inverted, as long as the load is placed correctly into the machine. Most pallet inverters are able to handle a wide variety of goods and products, which means it has few limitations. However, if packaging material is weak, the load may still need to be unpacked and repacked by hand. These machines are large, so a company needs to have dedicated floor space to accommodate it. Some types of pallet loads may not be suitable for inversion: for example, ones with irregular tops or sides. If there is a high volume of pallets to be inverted, a full cycle time of 25 to 40 seconds needs to be taken into account.