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Development of an Automatic Pallet Loading/unloading System for Seeded Trays

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  033081,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.14052) @2003
Authors:   Yi-Chich Chiu, Din-Sue Fon, Gang-Jhy Wu
Keywords:   Nursery, Seeded tray, Automatic pallet loading/unloading system

The objective of this research was to develop an automatic pallet loading/unloading system for rice seeded trays. In loading operations, the system could stack seeded trays sent from an automatic sowing system onto standard pallets for further sprouting process. In unloading operations, the system was integrated with another developed tray-unloading machine. The seeded trays, with newly sprouted seedlings, would be automatically retrieved from pallets and put on transportation system of the tray-unloading machine, and be transported from stacking area within sowing rooms to acclimatization fields for seedling-hardening process.

The pallet loading/unloading system was consisted of three units: the pallet-supplying unit, the tray-supplying unit, and the tray-relocating unit. In the pallet-supplying unit, empty pallets in stacks were de-stacked and sent to a tray-stacking section where the seeded trays were collected and stacked on the pallets in designed order by the tray-relocating unit. A stacking-completed pallet would be moved out of the stacking section, but would stay in the unit waiting to be forklift.

The tray-supplying unit took in the seeded-tray stacks, five trays in a stack, from a small piling device used in a sowing system, and separated them into single tray as they moving to the tray gripping section. During the separating process, the seeded trays have to be turned from lengthwise direction into lateral-wise direction and then recompiled into two piles of five trays each. A set of end effectors activated by the relocating unit, then pick up these two well-arranged piles and stack them on the waiting pallets. Each pallet could accommodate 240 trays, divided into 8 piles with 30-tray per pile. Experimental results showed that the mechanism worked satisfactorily at 1,415.7 trays an hour, with a success rate of 95% for tray stacking operation, and 1380.2 trays an hour, with a success rate of 97.2% for tray retrieving operation. Therefore, the system should be favourably accepted by farmers.

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