Palletizing, Depalletizing and Decanting Terminology Defined
As industrial automation penetrates more deeply into the U.S. manufacturing, warehousing and eCommerce markets, the terminology for front- and end-of-line solutions can be confusing. Use this reference and infographic to understand the lingo.
Front of Line
“Front of line” is sometimes known as “induction” when the unloaded material is fed into another storage system or process.
Depalletizing is the action of unloading a single item, box, case or layer from a pallet.
Pallets of a single box type with known dimensions are said to be homogeneous (pure SKU), and are picked one box at a time, typically from a known location in a pallet layer.
Heterogeneous (mixed SKU) pallets have multiple box and/or package types and are picked one piece at a time. Many times, these pallets are loaded in a random fashion with a variety of geometries and packaging materials.
Rainbow pallets (mixed SKU) are pallets with homogeneous layers of a single box type with known dimensions. The layers that form the pallet may have different box types and sizes on each layer. Rainbow pallets are picked one box, group of boxes, or layer per pick.
Decanting is the act of picking the optimal number of boxes in a single pick that will fit into a defined tote size or cubic space. Homogeneous (pure SKU) layers are a single, uniform box type with known dimensions. A homogeneous decanting process performs a multi-pick with optimized pick count to maximize tote fill and minimize the number of moves to complete a layer.
End of Line
Palletizing is the action of loading a box, group of boxes, or layer per pick (usually loaded from a conveyor) onto a pallet or large container. Building pallets of a single box type with known size dimensions are said to be homogeneous (pure SKU), and are picked to form a predetermined pattern for each layer to form a pallet.
Heterogeneous (mixed SKU) pallets are built with multiple box types, typically as rainbow pallets: a fixed-pick build has known-size dimensions, and is picked one box, group of boxes, or layer at a time. A random box pick build is a heterogeneous pallet build with boxes of unknown size dimensions and is picked one box or layer at a time, also called “ad hoc picking.”