What is an industrial pallet stacker?

May 8, 2024
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What is an industrial pallet stacker?

An industrial pallet stacker is a material handling equipment used to lift and move pallets in warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities. It allows operators to easily stack, transport, and organize pallets without using a forklift. 

How does an automatic pallet stacker work?

An automatic pallet stacker has a simple workflow. Let’s take a look at what that looks like: 

The operator controls the stacker using a handle with buttons or levers to raise and lower the forks, as well as drive the machine.

  • To lift a pallet, the operator positions the forks under the pallet and presses the 'up' button to raise the forks using the hydraulic system until the pallet reaches the desired height.
  • The powered stacker moves on wheels or casters, allowing the operator to transport pallets over short distances.
  • Steering is controlled by a tiller arm that also includes the controls to operate the machine. The operator can drive the stacker by pressing the accelerator lever or switch on the handle.
  • An automatic stacker runs on rechargeable batteries, so it emits zero direct emissions, making it suitable for work indoors.
  • The batteries provide power to the electric motor and hydraulic pump. A fully charged battery can operate for up to 8 hours before needing to recharge.

What are the main types of industrial pallet stackers? 

There are several types of industrial pallet stackers. Here are the most common ones: 

Walkie stackers

As the name suggests, an operator walks behind these stackers to manually operate them (A 2x1 work/cardio combo if you ask us). They’re very compact and maneuverable, excellent for smaller warehouses or retail environments where space is at a premium. Walkie stackers can lift pallets up to 5,000 pounds and stack up to 20 feet high.

Ride-On stackers

For higher volume operations, a ride-on pallet stacker allows an operator to sit while operating the machine, reducing fatigue over long shifts (but not so good for the waistline). These stackers offer greater lift capacity, up to 15,000 pounds, and higher reach, up to 30 feet. The trade-off is they require more space to operate and maneuver.

Counterbalance stackers

The most heavy-duty option, counterbalance stackers can lift the greatest loads, up to 50,000 pounds, and reach up to 50 feet high. Instead of a walk-behind or ride-on design, an operator controls these stackers from a platform (the ultimate in comfort). 

Counterbalance stackers use a weight at the rear of the machine to counterbalance heavy loads, allowing for such great lift capacity. However, they’re the largest type and require significant space as well as specially reinforced floors to support their weight.

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Benefits of using industrial pallet stackers

Using industrial pallet stackers in your warehouse or distribution center offers quite a few advantages.

They are:  

  • Skyrocketing productivity. Pallet stackers allow you to move heavy loads quickly and efficiently. Their powered operation means one person can do the job of many. 
  • Safety ratings increase. Manually moving pallets puts strain on workers and increases the risk of major ouchies. Pallet stackers minimize heavy lifting and improve ergonomics. Their stable platforms and guarded controls also make the overall process safer for operators and bystanders.
  • You can use your space better. Pallet stackers give you more flexibility in how you organize and store pallets. Their ability to lift and stack pallets at various heights means you can take advantage of vertical storage space. This allows you to store more pallets in the same footprint, freeing up floor space.
  • Yes, you’ll save money. Although pallet stackers require an upfront investment, they can lower costs over the long run. Fewer workers are needed to move the same number of pallets, and less product is damaged during transport and storage. Maintenance and repair costs are also minimal compared to manual pallet jacks.
  • Versatility! Pallet stackers handle a wide range of pallet sizes and come in different lift capacities to suit various needs. Some models can also be fitted with useful attachments like drum clamps, hoppers, and rotators. Their versatility makes them useful for material handling in many industries like warehousing, manufacturing, distribution, and retail.

Choosing the right industrial pallet stacker for your needs

All right, so you’re set, and you’ve decided that an industrial pallet stacker is what you need. 

Now, you need to determine which type and size will suit your specific needs:

  • The most important factor is lift capacity. This refers to the maximum weight the stacker can lift and move. If you regularly handle heavy pallets, you'll want a model with a higher lift capacity, perhaps 4,000 to 5,000 lbs or more. For lighter pallets, a smaller capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 lbs should work well and will likely cost less.
  • Next, think about whether you need an electric, gas, or manual-powered stacker. Electric and gas models allow for faster travel speeds and require less physical effort to operate but cost more. A manual stacker is inexpensive but requires manual pumping and steering, so only choose this if you move pallets infrequently over short distances.
  • Finally, think about any additional features that would be net gains for productivity and safety. A side-shift mechanism allows you to move pallets side to side without changing the direction the stacker is facing. An operator cage provides protection from falling objects. Warning lights and audible alarms alert pedestrians when the stacker is in motion or turning.

Summing up

An industrial pallet stacker is a handy machine that can make moving and organizing pallets and heavy loads a breeze for warehouses and distribution centers. 

Now, it’s just a matter of finding the right automated pallet stacker for your needs, budget, and shop floor configuration. Happy hunting! 

Next steps

Ready for the best automation has to offer? RO1 from Standard Bots is the premier choice for both small and large-scale operations.

  • Second-to-none value: RO1 delivers the performance you need at 50% of the price of its closest competitors. 
  • Performance powerhouse: Enjoy faster speeds, pinpoint accuracy, and a class-leading 18 kg payload capacity for demanding tasks.
  • AI-driven evolution: Powered by advanced AI on par with GPT-4, RO1 continually learns and adapts, ensuring its capabilities grow alongside your needs.
  • Collaborative safety: With the latest advances in machine vision and top-of-the-line sensors, RO1 ensures your team’s safety during collaboration. 

Contact our team for a free 30-day onsite trial and unlock personalized guidance to streamline your first robot implementation.

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