L3 ExMac Completes Turnkey Pallet Inspection & Repair Handling System For CHEP Grangemouth

CHEP, the global leader in pallet pooling, subcontracts a number of its UK pallet conditioning facilities to partners such as Unit Pallets Ltd (UPL). Working together CHEP and UPL completed the build of a  new 1500 mfacility in Grangemouth, Scotland.

The Grangemouth plant is the first CHEP plant in Scotland operated by UPL, with capacity for processing 4.3 million pallets per year.

L3 ExMac Automation, the UK’s leading conveying and material handling specialist, was the principle contractor appointed for the entire project – from design and build and procurement of all new equipment to installation and commissioning.

Commenting for CHEP, Technical Systems Manager Nick Fisher says: “This is the first time we awarded a turnkey construction design management contract to an equipment supplier for a new plant. Having L3 ExMac manage all aspects of the project, including all the different contractors, the equipment being installed, the controls and site safety, worked well for us.”

The total cost of the plant, including equipment outside ExMac’s remit, was around £2 million. The project began with a very challenging schedule that Nick Fisher admits was tighter than L3  ExMac would have liked. He says that L3 ExMac’s commitment and around-the-clock work during the initial design phase and during the installation, ensured that the schedule and timetable for the plant’s June start date were met. 

The specification for the plant required L3 ExMac’s design and manufacture to be sufficiently robust to withstand the combination of a harsh environment and the high-volume throughput. Fisher confirms that this was achieved. “The build quality of the equipment supplied by L3 ExMac is impressive.  We were delighted to work with L3 ExMac on what has proved to be a very successful new venture.  We were equally impressed with the delivery of the controls system by L3 MacDonald Humfrey, who worked in partnership with L3 ExMac.”

Nick Fisher is also proud of the fact that everything for the plant has been sourced in the UK and the majority through ExMac. “A lot of the components for the conveying and handling systems that we would normally order from outside the UK have been manufactured in-house by ExMac or locally through its sub-contractors. That is good for us, because it makes the project easier to manage and we have local support post-installation.

Fisher is also complimentary about ExMac’s engineering and design capabilities, saying that the L3 ExMac engineering department proposed innovative solutions to what have been traditional pallet handling problems. “We are pleased with the outcome,” he says “some of the machines L3 ExMac installed are very different to what we are used to and have proven to work well.”

The Grangemouth plant runs 24 hours per day, inspecting and conditioning around 750 pallets per hour. The  facility receives stacks of pallets from trailers that are loaded by forklift truck onto a singulating conveyor for transport to the inspection area. Every pallet is inspected to ensure the quality standard is maintained; pallets not requiring repair are diverted through a pallet stacker to a painting, drying and stencilling facility before being reloaded onto transport for dispatch.

Pallets that require repair are removed from the conveyor system for maintenance before being readied for dispatch.  Scrap wood is transported on a third tier of the repair conveyor and delivered via a series of belt conveyors to a shredding unit that chips the timber for recycling into materials such as Chipboard.

Fisher is proud of the fact that everything for the plant was sourced in the UK and the majority through L3 ExMac. " A lot of the components for the conveying and handling systems that we would normally order from outside the UK were manufactured in-house by L3 ExMac or locally through its subcontractors. That is good for us, because it made the project easier to manage and we have local support post-installation.

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