UK Government Super Deduction Scheme – How Will It Affect My Purchase?

The UK governments Super-deduction scheme is one of the most attractive tax incentives for business investment that has ever been offered by the UK Government.  The scheme has been created to encourage firms to invest in productivity-enhancing plant and machinery assets that will help them grow, and to encourage them to make those investments now.

For capital expenditure incurred from 1st April 2021 until the end of March 2023, companies can claim 130% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investments.  It allows companies to cut their tax bill by up to 25p for every £1 they invest.

Below is a worked example showing what the tax benefit to you would likely be when purchasing a palletising system.

Super-Deduction Scheme Worked Example
  • A company spends £100,000 on qualifying assets
  • Deducts 130% of the initial investment when computing taxable profits which equates to £130,000
  • Deducting £130,000 from taxable profits will save the company up to 19% of that, which equates to £24,700, on its corporation tax bill

Taking advantage of the Governments Super-deduction scheme will effectively enable you to purchase a £100,000 palletising system for as little as £75,300. 

Full details of the scheme are available on the UK government website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/super-deduction . Please check with your accountants to confirm the extent to which you can benefit from this scheme in your particular circumstances.

If you would like to know more about the Granta GA15 palletising system, feel free to get in touch on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk and we will be very happy to help.

 

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Can Palletising Be Automated Where The Product Size Changes Frequently?

This is a question that is often asked when automated palletising is being considered. In the past, the answer to this question would have been ‘no’, but with the many advances in technology, multi box, multi line palletising has become possible to automate.  As a result, this has enabled many companies that were not previously able to automate their pallet stacking processes, to now automate, and realise the benefits that automated palletising brings.

Systems have been developed with easy programming software where your staff can input the product dimensions, and then stack patterns are automatically generated.  The video below shows an example of easy programming software on a robotic palletiser.

With the right robotic palletising system, you will be able to program the robot to stack different size boxes off multiple lines simultaneously. This has the added benefit of reducing the amount of capital needed to install a palletising system, as one system can be used for two or more lines.

This video clip below shows a robotic palletiser palletising two different box sizes simultaneously off two production lines onto separate pallets.  This functionality has been made viable by the development of palletising software that can be programmed by factory staff. 

Before purchasing a palletising system it is well worth carrying out research to ensure that the system will meet your requirements.  Some of the key points to ensure you have covered include:

  • Can the system palletise as fast as, or faster than, the speed the production process can run at?
  • Will the gripper head handle the product appropriately without damaging or dropping the product?
  • If you are using slip sheets, can it place them?
  • Can the system be quickly reprogrammed for different bag or box sizes?
  • Can the system be adapted/moved as production processes change?
  • Has your product been tried on the system to ensure it will work?

You may also find this Palletiser URS template useful. https://www.granta-automation.co.uk/news/downloadable-palletiser-urs-template/

If you are unable to make the initial capital payment for purchasing a palletising system, you may wish to consider a leasing scheme.  Purchasing via a leasing scheme enables you to realise the benefits of automating the process without having to make a large, upfront payment for the system. There are various types of leasing options on the market, and more details on the leasing scheme we offer are available here

To discuss your specific application in more detail, feel free to contact us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk and we will be very happy to help.

 

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Have You Seen This Palletising Video?

This video shows the GA15 palletiser in action! Picking and placing slip sheets and using row gripping to palletise boxes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dCD_zQc9jk

If you would like to know more, feel free to contact us on 01223 499488 .

 

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Can You Automatically Palletise Open Top Crates or Boxes?

Well, the short answer to this is yes! With the right gripper head, palletising of open top boxes and crates can easily be automated.

Below is a short video showing an underneath gripper palletising open top plastic trays.

As it is not possible to lift open top crates or boxes with a vacuum gripper, an underneath gripper will typically be used. However, bespoke grippers can also be made to lift the product should an underneath gripper not be appropriate. An underneath gripper has tines that slides underneath the open top crate or box, and an arm that goes across the top of the item and clamps down onto it to hold it in place. Once the product has been placed in the desired location on the pallet, the top clamp is released and the gripper tines are withdrawn from under the product.

An underneath gripper also has an integrated vacuum gripper that is used to pick and place pallets onto the conveyor, and also to pick and place slip sheets.

With the GA15 palletising system, stack patterns are automatically optimised in the software, and you can then select the stack pattern that best suits your requirements. The easy programming software also allows your factory staff to reprogram the palletiser for different sizes of crate of box within minutes.

An automated palletiser can also often be used to palletise two types of product off two different production lines.  This helps to minimise capital outlay requirements and helps to keep the floor space requirements to a minimum.

If you would like a budget quote on an automated palletising system, then simply give us a call on 01223 499488 or if you prefer, simply enter your project details into our project builder and we will send you a budget quote.

 

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What Efficiency Increases Do You Get With Automated Palletising?

This is a question that is well worth answering before you commit to investing capital in an automated palletising solution.

Here are some of the efficiency increases that some of our customers have experienced after installation of an automated palletising system:

  • Distribution Centre – automated container unloading and box palletising system installed at a leading supermarket brand. This is saving them a minimum of 119 man hours per week.
  • Chemical Factory – 25kg bag palletising system installed which has resulted in improved efficiencies and improved stack quality, resulting in a reduction in the number of pallets required.
  • Food Factory – palletising system for 25Kg sacks installed which has resulted in an increased production throughput of 150%. It has also reduced labour requirements by 1 person.
  • Refractory Specialist – bag palletising system installed which has resulted in operator requirements being reduced from 2 persons to 1 person. Production throughput is up by 45% and all manual handling elements have been removed.

However, as each application is different, the efficiency increases you may achieve will likely be different to someone else, so we have outlined some of the more common efficiency increases below.

Production Throughput Increase
With an automated palletising system, your palletising process will not have to stop when staff have breaks, fill out paperwork, move goods, etc. Therefore, if your production process is automated and can run without any manual input, your production output will increase with an automated palletising system. Ie, if during an 8 hour shift your production stops for an average of 1 hour due to breaks, forklift movements, etc, your production output will increase by 14% with an automated palletising system.

Improved OEE
In some production processes, the main production line is not able to be run at full capacity as those palletising the product are not able to keep up with these speeds.  An automated palletising system can be designed to pick and palletise layers, or rows of product, onto the pallet to improve the palletising speeds.  This then allows you to run your production process at full capacity and thus increase your output and OEE.

Reduction in Labour Requirements
With an automated palletising system, it is possible for one system to simultaneously palletise different types of product off multiple lines. This can increase you efficiencies dramatically, especially if you currently have more than one member of staff palletising the product off the various lines. Personnel that are no longer required in the palletising department can be redeployed elsewhere within the company.

Reduction In Downtime
With a manual palletising system you always run the risk of downtime due to staff being off sick or on holiday etc. With an automated system this risk is removed, and makes your production process far more predictable and controllable, thus reducing your downtime and increasing your efficiencies. 

Reduction In Defects
Resolving issues related to goods damaged in transit can be costly and time consuming.  An automated palletising system will consistently palletise product to the same standard, and therefore reduce the risk of goods being damaged in transit. This will not only remove the need to spend time sorting damaged goods issues, but will also help with customer retention.

Improved Working Conditions
Automating the palletising process improves working conditions and removes the risk of your workers suffering from repetitive strain injuries. This helps to create a safer working environment for your workers and can improve staff morale as they are redeployed to work in other areas of the company.


These are just some of the efficiency increase that you may experience with an automated palletising system. However, depending on your production process, there will likely be other efficiency increase that you will see as a result of installing an automated palletising system.

To help with giving a value to these predicted efficiency increases, we have created a couple of free downloadable calculators:

You may also find our project builder tool very useful for getting a quick budget quote on an automated palletising system.  https://www.granta-automation.co.uk/project-builder

If you would like to discuss your palletising application, then feel free to get in touch with us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk and we will be very happy to help.

 

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Small Footprint Palletiser Cell

With space being at a premium in many manufacturing facilities, automated palletising systems have often been unviable in the past due to space constraints. This has meant that goods have had to continue to be palletised manually, along with all the associated manual handling risks.

However, with the introduction of Cobot palletisers, smaller automated palletising systems are now becoming more viable for production facilities with limited space. These systems have their place where you are palletising lightweight products at modest speeds. Typically they will be able to palletise boxes or bags onto two pallet positions, and some, but not all Cobot palletising systems will also be able to handle euro and standard pallet sizes.

Whilst the compactness of a Cobot palletising system allows for automated palletising in areas of limited space, they do still have their constraints. If the system can’t run as fast as your production process can run, then introducing a Cobot palletiser will become a bottleneck to your production throughput. Cobot palletisers are also unable to palletise products when an underneath gripper is required due to the fact that the weight of an underneath gripper is usually more than the weight the Cobot can lift. Also, slipsheets cannot be used with a Cobot palletiser cell as the system is unable to pick and place them.

To meet this need, Granta have developed a small footprint palletising cell that is capable of running at faster speeds and higher payloads. The Granta small footprint robotic palletising cell is typically a KUKA 5 axis palletising robot with 120kg payload. This enables it to palletise higher payloads, and at faster speeds. The cell is customised to suit your requirements, but would usually have two pallet stack positions and an input conveyor. As the cell is modular if allows for flexibility in the layout and shape of the cell, it also enables to you change the modules, or add to the system should your requirements change in the future. This helps to ensure that your investment is future proof as well as meeting your current production and space needs.

With the Granta palletising system a wider variety of products can be palletised as an underneath gripper, bag gripper or vacuum gripper can be specified. This variety of gripper options enables the system to palletise boxes, display boxes, bags, trays, bottles, sacks, drums, open top crates, shrink wrapped items, cans, etc. If a standard gripper design will not work for your product, a bespoke gripper can be manufactured to suit your requirements.

The cell has easy programming software which makes it very simple for anyone to reprogram in minutes. Operators can use the easy-to-use visual software to program the system for different product sizes, pallet sizes and stack patterns. Stack patterns are optimised and you can then choose the stack pattern that suits your requirements. This video shows how quick and easy it is to reprogram the palletiser for different product sizes.

The system can also be used to simultaneously palletise different types of product off multiple production lines. This reduces any capital expenditure requirements, as instead of having to purchase multiple palletising systems, only one system will be required.

One of the best ways to ensure that the robotic palletising system you choose is able to meet your requirements is to trial your product on the proposed solution. This will enable you to see if the system is indeed able to handle your product successfully and at the speeds required. You will also be able to see how neatly the finished pallet is stacked.

We currently offer a free, no obligation palletiser trial service. If you would like to take advantage of this,  Click here to book, or contact us on 01223 499488.

If you would like to discuss your palletising application, then feel free to get in touch with us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk and we will be very happy to help.

 

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What Are The Benefits Of Robotic Palletising VS Conventional Layer Forming Palletising?

Put simply, robotic palletisers pick and place product from your production line onto a pallet.  Depending on the product and the speeds required, product may be; picked as individual items, as a row of product, or as a complete pallet layer. Whilst robotic palletisers are typically used for stacking pallets, they can also be used to de-palletise product as well.

Robotic palletising systems are able to handle many different types of product such as: bags, boxes, trays, crates, bottles, cans, drums, etc. Depending on the type of product being picked, the robot gripper may be a vacuum gripper, bag gripper, row gripper, underneath gripper, or specialist gripper.

Some of the key benefits of a robotic palletising system versus a conventional layer forming palletising system are outlined below.

Space Saving

A robotic palletising system will typically take up less floor space than a conventional layer forming system as they don’t usually require the large amounts of conveyoring to orientate product that is often needed with a conventional system. One of the smallest robotic palletising systems available on the market is approximately 3 meters x 3 meters. Using a robotic palletising system rather than a conventional layer forming system will therefore free up valuable floor space in your factory that can be utilized for other more beneficial purposes.

Product Flexibility

Robotic palletisers have the ability to be more flexible than a conventional layer forming palletising system as they can be reprogrammed by factory staff to suit different box sizes and stack patterns. The flexibility of a robotic palletiser makes it viable to automate palletising on production lines where a conventional system wouldn’t have been feasible due to regular changes in product sizes and stack pattern requirements. It also gives you the certainty that your palletiser will still work should your product size/shape change in the future.

Flexibility of Layout
Due to the flexibility of robotic palletisers, a robotic palletising system can be installed to suit your current factory layout, whereas a conventional layer forming palletising system is typically a standard layout that you need to alter your production process to suit. Robotic palletising systems can also have different modules added such as automatic pallet dispensing, pallet wrapping, etc., to suit your production speeds and requirements.

Scalability

Scalability is a huge plus point for robotic palletising systems, particularly if you purchase a modular system.  A modular palletising system will only have 4 bolts into the floor for the robot, and the rest of the system will be fixed to this.  This makes the system very moveable and scalable as it is possible to move the system to another area in your factory or a new site, leaving very little residual damage.  This modularity also enables you to add different modules to the system as your production grows, or your requirements change.

Effective Across Multiple Production Lines

A robotic palletising system can be used to simultaneously palletise different types of product off multiple production lines.  This reduces the capital expenditure required, as with a conventional layer forming system, you would need to purchase two palletising systems if you have two production lines with different product types on that you wish to automate.

These are just a few of the benefits of a robotic palletising system vs a conventional layer forming system, and depending on your specific application there are very likely other benefits to take into account.

If you would like more information on the modular Granta GA15 robotic palletising system, then please do get in touch on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk and we will be very happy to help.

 

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Ways To Overcome The UK’s Nationwide Labour Shortage

With staff shortages predicted to last up to 2 years and affecting many different industries, many manufacturers are looking for ways to overcome the issue. Supply chains have been disrupted, and whilst there is demand for product, many business are struggling to find the labour to enable them to fulfil demand.

This has led to companies trying many different and innovative ways to overcome the labour shortage and minimise disruption to their business. Below are some examples of methods used and how these methods may help in overcoming the nationwide labour shortage.

Cutting Production, Reducing Product Range
Cutting production and reducing product range are two ways in which you can reduce the amount of labour required to produce product.  In doing this it is important to ensure you focus specifically on your core products and eliminate products that make less money or are less competitive. In doing this, you can be sure that your labour input is going to yield the highest ROI for the company.

Increasing Wages To Retain and Attract New Staff
Retaining staff is one of the best ways to ensure you don’t suffer from a labour shortage.  This may involve increasing wages for your existing staff.  There are also many other ways to increase staff retention such as offering bonus schemes, providing training to help staff reach their goals, etc. With the current labour shortage, attracting new staff can also mean having to increase your pay offer as those looking for jobs often have a variety of job offers to choose from.

Raising Prices
If you are having to pay higher wages and spend more on training your staff to retain them, one of the best ways to minimise this extra expenditure is to raise your selling prices.  Often a small percentage increase in selling price will yield good returns on your bottom line profits.

Training/Upskilling Existing Workforce
Upskilling your existing workforce to enable them to fulfil a different job role within your organisation is often a good way of filling positons within the company. It also give your staff the opportunity for career progression within the company whilst removing the need to recruit.

Analyse/Simplify Current Job Roles
Take a step back and analyse current job roles within the company; asking questions such as what does the role involve, what is the reason for this process, how can the job be simplified, etc. You may find that there are some processes that are being done within your company that no longer serve a purpose and can be eliminated. You may also find some processes that can be simplified.  Working through existing job roles and removing/simplifying processes can enable you to free up staff time for other activities that need to be done.

Cultivate A Culture To Retain Staff
With the current labour shortage existing staff are often being head hunted by others, so it is very important to ensure that you have a good culture to ensure you retain your current staff.  A culture of recognition and reward goes a long way to making staff feel valued and therefore less likely to consider changing jobs.

Automate Repetitive Tasks
Automating the more repetitive tasks in your production process enables you to redeploy your exisiting staff into other roles within the organisation, thereby reducing the need to employ additional staff.  There are many different tasks that can be automated, with one of the key tasks being pallet stacking.  Stacking pallets by hand is not only a labour intensive activity, but can also reduce the efficiency of your production process as staff stop for breaks, have holidays, and may be unexpectedly off sick at short notice.  An automated palletising system will free up your staff to do other jobs within the organisation whilst improving your OEE at the same time. 

There are no doubt many other methods for reducing the impact of the current labour shortage, but these are just a few examples that may help.

If you would like further information on automated palletising systems, then feel free to get in touch with us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk and we will be very happy to help.

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What Palletiser Is Best For Your Application?

With the many advances there have been in the field of automation in recent years, there are now very few products that can’t be palletised automatically.  However knowing which type of robotic palletiser is going to be best for your application can often be difficult to determine.

To ensure that the robotic palletising system will cover your current and future requirements, it is very important to ensure that the following key criteria is met:

  • Can the system palletise as fast as, or faster than, the speed the production process can run at?
  • Will the gripper head handle the product appropriately without damaging or dropping the product?
  • If you are using slip sheets, can it place them?
  • Is the system able to be quickly and easily reprogrammed for different product sizes by your staff?


Along with this criteria, one of the key elements of any robotic palletising system is the gripper as this is the part that is used to pick and place the product when palletising. Below we have explained in more detail as to the different gripper methods that can be used and which type of application they are most suited to.

Foam Vacuum Gripper

There are several different styles of vacuum gripper available, but the most commonly used one for palletising product is a flat foam head vacuum gripper. 

A foam vacuum gripper is typically used where the top of the product is flat the item can be  vacuum picked from the top. This would usually be items such as boxes, display boxes or cartons. However some types of vacuum packed products and bags can also be palletised using a vacuum gripper.

A vacuum gripper can also be used to pick and place pallets onto the conveyor, and to pick and place cardboard slip sheets.

Vacuum Row Gripper

Vacuum row gripping works on the same principle as a foam vacuum gripper but is able to pick and place multiple items at once.  This increases the cycle speed and is a good choice for high speed production lines.  A bump turn conveyor may be needed to orientate the product as it come off the production line.

A good vacuum row gripper palletising system will be able to palletise different types of product off more than one line. The row gripper can also be used to pick and place pallets onto the conveyor, and to pick and place cardboard slip sheets.

Bag Gripper

A bag gripper has positioning pins, lifting pins and a centre clamp which provides extra support as the product is moved.

Typically when a bag gripper is used, the robot will need to pick off a purpose manufactured sack pick conveyor to allow the pins to wrap round under the bag before lifting. The gripper closes the positioning pins and lifting pins around the product and clamps the centre clamp as it lifts the product off the conveyor. Once the robot has moved the bag to the correct position for stacking, the lifting pins release and the positioning pins guide the bag into place.

Due to the unique way in which the gripper works this results in a very neatly stacked pallet. The gripper also often has functionality included to pick and place the pallets onto the conveyor.

A bag gripper is usually only used for bags and sacks.

Underneath Gripper

An underneath gripper has tines that slides underneath the product, and an arm that goes across the top of the item and clamps down onto it to hold it in place. Once the product has been placed in the desired location on the pallet, the top clamp is released and the gripper tines are withdrawn from under the product. An underneath gripper also has an integrated vacuum gripper that is used to pick and place pallets onto the conveyor, and also to pick and place slip sheets.

Underneath grippers are used for a variety of different applications such as open top plastic or cardboard crates, open top boxes, boxes that are not strong enough to be lifted with a vacuum gripper, shrink wrapped items such as packs of bottles, etc.

Parallel Gripper

A parallel gripper has two side plates that close parallel to each other onto the two sides of the product and then lift it.  This type of gripper is therefore most suited to boxes and is only used where the product is a regular shape, but vacuum gripping is not possible.

Bespoke Gripper

Sometimes a standard gripper will not lift product due to its size or shape in which case a bespoke gripper may need to be manufactured to meet your exact requirements. Products that would potentially require a bespoke gripper would include; drums, cans, bottles, irregular shaped items, etc.

A bespoke gripper would also typically be designed to be able to pick and place pallets and slip sheets as well.

One of the best ways to ensure that the robotic palletising system you choose is able to meet your requirement is to trial your product on the proposed solution. This will enable you to see if the system is indeed able to handle your product successfully and at the speeds required.  In the case of sack palletising, you will also be able to see how neatly the finished pallet is stacked.

We currently offer a free, no obligation palletiser trial service. If you would like to take advantage of this,  Click here to book, or contact us on 01223 499488.

If you would like to discuss your palletising application, then feel free to get in touch with us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk and we will be very happy to help.

 

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How To Calculate Automation CapEx ROI

When making your CapEx plans it is always useful to know the ROI of any proposed expenditure.  However, this can sometimes be difficult to calculate as there are often several different factors that need to be taken into account to ensure that you have a realistic figure to work with.

Firstly there are the tangible aspects that need to be calculated such as:

  • What is the current production efficiency and what percentage increase in production output am I likely to achieve by installing an automated system?
  • How long does existing machinery remain idle whilst staff stop for breaks? How much extra production throughput will there be if the machinery doesn’t have to stop?
  • How many extra shifts could be accomplished with an automated system? What is the value of this extra production?
  • Given the benefits the system will bring, what is the payback period of this investment likely to be?

Then there are the many intangible aspects that also need to be taken into account.  These include:

  • What is the value of having less health & safety issues by using an automated system?
  • Will automation allow me to reduce my production costs and thus secure more market share? What is the value of this extra market share likely to be?
  • Might my competition automate ahead of me instead, and what impact is this likely to have on our market? What value of market share may I potentially lose to competition if I don’t automate?
  • Are staff struggling/getting bored of the manual labour aspect of their job? Is staff turnover going to be an issue and what is the cost of this likely to be? Is it becoming more difficult to recruit staff for manual job roles?

More information on how to define the value of intangible benefits is available here https://www.granta-automation.co.uk/news/how-to-define-the-value-of-intangible-benefits/

Having calculated the value of both the tangible and intangible benefits for the project, you will have a better understanding of the implications for the company of automating vs not automating the process.  Using this process to evaluate all of the CapEx projects you are considering will give you comparable figures you can use when comparing potential projects as you will have a standardised set of data from which to compare the merits of the different projects.  This will enable you to make an informed decision as to the order in which to prioritise your projects based on their ROI value to the company.

To help with calculating the ROI of any proposed automation CapEx plans we have created a couple of useful downloadable calculators:

These calculators will enable you to quickly calculate both the tangible and intangible benefits of any proposed CapEx projects.

If you are looking to introduce any automated palletising systems into your process then you may find our project builder tool very useful for getting a quick budget quote on an automated palletising system.  https://www.granta-automation.co.uk/project-builder

If you have any questions or difficulties filling it the calculators then feel free to
If you have any questions or difficulties filling it the calculators then feel free to
contact us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

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