Layer Picking Equipment for Mixed-SKU Pallet Building


Layer-picking equipment is gaining popularity in beverage and grocery distribution centers. The SKU volume is consistently expanding in the distribution centers, to fulfill the increasing consumer demand.

Retailer’s requirements include an increase in drop-offs, vast SKUs in low quantity, and less on-hand inventory at the facility. It is a challenge for the supply chain providers because manual picking and pallet building are strenuous and can cause delays. There is also the possibility of errors, but with the layer-picking automation process a single or more mixed-SKU pallet is built with speed and 99.9% accuracy is maintained.

Top Industries offers a versatile and mobile layer picker machine. It handles 40 pallets in an hour and there are no concerns about product damage due to pressure. The engineers even design a customized automatic pallet exchange system with a speed of handling 100 pallets in an hour.

Layer picking mechanism can handle –

  • Heavy products
  • Empty pallets
  • Plastic totes
  • Slipsheets
  • Fragile items
  • Multiple layers
  • Multiple layers
  • Display cartons
  • Open crates

Layer picking process benefits

  • Matchless picking ability
  • Increases efficiency
  • Increases order-pick accuracy
  • On-time order fulfillment
  • Lowers the labor costs
  • Pick a single or multiple layers at once
  • The warehouse can automate product tracking

Layer picking alternatives

For layer-picking systems, some options from simple to integrated ASRS [automated storage & retrieval system] are available.

  • Forklift with suction or clamp attachment – It is a semi-automatic solution. The operator takes carton layer/s to empty pallets placed in the middle or center [mixing area]. When the pallet order is completed, the forklift transports the pallet for storage or distribution.
  • Forklift with clamp – The forklift operator secured the carton layer with the clamp and places it right on the pallet positioned on its fork instead of carrying it to the center [mixing area]. The fork pallet is full and deposited on the lane for pickup.
  • Robotic overhead gantry with suction tool or clamps – The robotic layer-picking overhead gantry is integrated with the WCS [warehouse control system]. WCS receives order details from the warehouse management system to build mixed-SKU pallets. The task is concluded in minimal time and cost.
  • ASRS & overhead gantry system – ASRS fully automates the pallet replacement to layer picking zone. Program the highly automated overhead gantry system to transport completed mixed-SKU and place it for storage or distribution.


Forklift operators remove shrink wrap while restocking in bulk stacking. Another method to save space and improve replacement efficiency is to use pallet flow for layering pick lanes.

Boost pallet flow lanes efficiency

Pallet flow lanes feed high-volume pallet loads to the center pick lane. There is a pallet separator that locks & holds the front pallet at a gap of 6” to 12” between the following pallets. This allows the clamps to access all 4 sides of layer with ease. As soon as, the front pallet gets empty, the following pallet is released in the front position.

The pallet flow lanes get replenished quickly from the pushback rack positioned above the pallet flow lanes.  To get an idea of how the layer picking process works check TopIndustries social channel profile. You will find them on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.