Quick Pallet Maker - Input Windows
This page explains the elements present in the three different types of Quick Pallet Maker input windows; Starting from PP, Starting from box and Container Fill.
Starting from Primary Package
The start from Primary Package window contains all the information that is required to create boxes and pallet configurations from primary package dimensions. Besides the primary package data (top of the window), the user must enter the case construction information, case restrictions, shipping pallet data and load restrictions. Quick Pallet Maker has been designed so the user can fill the data from left to right and from top to bottom. The default values are based on real-life data and can be used to view the program's features by simply selecting "Recalculate" from the Tools menu.
Primary Package Information
- Package Shape: Select from Rectangular, Cylindrical or Bottle depending on whether your primary package looks more like a carton, a can or like a bottle. Irregular-shaped objects will most of the time resemble a rectangle. Narrow-neck bottles (wine, ketchup, etc.) that are selected as bottles can only be stacked upwards.
- Dimensions Vertical to Pallet: Many products can only be packaged right-side up or there is one orientation that is not allowed. For example, a CRT (Cathode-Ray-Tube) computer monitor cannot be lied down with the screen facing the floor, but can be set with left side or the front side facing the floor. The least options that are checked, the faster the program will calculate the available solutions.Check the orientations that are suitable for your product.
- Primary Package Dimensions: Type the Length, Width and Height or Diameter and Height, depending on whether your package is rectangular or cylindrical. If you are not sure of one of the dimensions, you can use the Advanced Input window to calculate different scenarios for that dimension.
- Primary Package Weight: Type the gross weight of your package. This is useful for calculating the corrugate carton resistance and pallet weight limitations, besides showing up in the report correctly.
- Bottle Cap and Body: A pair of radio buttons appear if the user has selected the bottle package type. Clicking on these radio buttons will determine which one of the bottle properties can be modified by dragging within the drawing. Dragging the drawing vertically will change the bottle proportions. Dragging sideways when the "cap" button is activated will allow changing the diameter.
- Case Count: Type the number of primary packages per case. If you are not sure of this number, you can test different scenarios with the Advanced Input window.
- Box Construction & Board Thickness: Quick Pallet Maker allows you to choose between two different types of boxes (RSC and Trays) and several standard corrugate thicknesses. The box thickness values update automatically. The purpose of this is to calculate the added thickness that is provided by the boxes and to display the box drawings accordingly. The options do not limit the user as he/she can overrule the box thicknesses that appear in the values at right of the menus and type his/her own values. For example, if the common company perception is that a CSC box will add 8 mm per side, then:
- Select RSC from the first list (to produce the closed box drawing),
- Select any board type from the second list, and
- Type 8 in all three input boxes. Your cases will calculate correctly now.
- Case Dimensions Constraints: Together with the ratio constraints, this is the most overlooked but one of the most important features in QPM. The case constraints allow the user to limit the different types of boxes that the program will create. The first constraints will limit the box dimensions on the low and high sides. Length and height limitations on the high side many times arise from the difficulties of handling long or tall boxes, while the limitations on the low side are due to construction difficulties.
- Case Ratio Constraints: This feature limits the ratios between the box dimensions, not only the box dimensions themselves. Selecting a small range will limit the program to produce a box that resembles a cube. Selecting a wide range will produce long, narrow and/or flat boxes. Most new users take some time to understand this feature. Once they do, they appreciate it. This constraint is the main producer of "No solutions found" messages.
- Case Properties: Clicking this button will open the partitions (or dividers) and slack window. QPM includes a list of standard dividers that will add the specified space into the boxes for proper calculation. In the current version of QPM, the box drawings with dividers will show internal slack but will not display the dividers. To add a partition, select a standard partition from the list on top, then select a standard board width or enter a custom value. Click OK to include the partition into the calculations.
This is an important feature of Quick Pallet Maker. The std. case option selects a case from a list that is similar in dimensions to the case that is produced from the Primary Package dimensions and uses it to replace the non-standard case. The standard case list can be edited by the user and contains the main boxes that the user wishes to work with, mainly based on company requirements or availability from box vendors.
Type Menu: When adding or editing standard cases in the Standard Cases and Pallets window, the user can define the type of box to discrminate quickly using this menu. The default value for the boxes in the list is "Box".
Std. Case Menu: This pull-down menu enables the user to select from:
- Do not use standard cases: Will calculate normally.
- Using standard cases whenever possible: This option will only replace the calculated boxes with standard case sizes when their range is within the range of the non-standard box. Those cases that cannot be standardized will be left as is (with their original dimensions).
- Use ONLY standard cases: Only cases within the specified range will be considered and those cases that cannot be standardized will be ignored. If no standard cases are possible, then QPM will deliver a "No solutions found" message.
- Fill standard cases: When this option is selected, QPM will arrange the rectangular primary packages (this feature not available for cylindrical packages) in such a way that maximizes the number of packges per box. In this case, the maximum slack restrictions will apply.
- Fill standard cases with constant case count: Will use the same box fill algorithm as the previous option but will only add as many boxes as determined in the case count cell.
Allowed compression and slack: The values in this section will define the range around the boxes that are produced by Quick Pallet Maker so the program can figure out if they match any of the cases that are included in the user's Std. case list. Compression should be used only when the product will not be damaged. For example, pillows and soft foam products. In all other cases, compression should be zero. Slack should only be used when the product will not be damaged due to movements within the box or when internal padding can be added.
Shipping Pallet Dimensions
In this section the user will specify the pallet type, dimensions and weight.
- Pallet Type: This pull-down menu allows to select from a list of standard pallets. For example, you may create a custom pallet called "Company Pallet" in the standard cases and pallets window. When the pallet is changed, the pallet dimensions will update automatically to reflect the current working units.
- Pallet Dimensions and Weight: If the pallet dimensions differ from any of the standard pallets, the user can type new values in any of these input boxes.
Load Properties (including shipping pallet)
This section contains the load dimensions and weight restrictions. Note that the maximum load dimensions update automatically when the shipping pallet is changed. It is also important to indicate that the user can calculate a load without a shipping pallet by introducing zero as the pallet dimensions (or creating a new null pallet) and specifying the internal dimensions of a containing device (e.g. a std. shipping container).
- Minimum and Maximum values: Type the minimum and maximum values for your pallet load. Remember that the pallet height and weight are included into these values. Overhang (load bigger than pallet) is usually unacceptable since it may damage the cases during transportation.
Starting from Box
The start from box window is a simplified version of the Primary Package input window that was explained previously. It is displayed when the user selects "Start from Box" from the New Document submenu of the File menu. It is a new feature that was introduced in QPM 2 to speed up the work process for those users that already know their box dimensions. Note that dividers are not available as they only affect the internal part of the box, which does not matter for this type of calculation.
Box construction information.
This section is what makes this window different from the primary package window. Instead of calculating the box sizes from a primary package, the user types in the box external dimensions and the box weight. Pressing the "Add Box" button will write the box to the table at right and display a drawing of the box in the window at far right.
- Box Table: Contains the dimensions for the boxes that the user has added. To delete a box, press the "Delete" button while selecting the box row.
- Box Drawing: Depending on the construction type, the drawing will display an empty box or an empty tray. In windows and Mac OSX, when the mouse enters the drawing and stays there for a short period, a small yellow tag will indicate the box internal and external dimensions. Clicking on the right button of the mouse (or ctrl+click on a Mac) will display a small menu where the user can choose to copy the box drawing or display an open box or its contents. Note that the contents of an empty box are none, hence the blank drawing when you select this option.
Shipping Pallet Dimensions
In this section the user will specify the pallet type, dimensions and weight. It performs the same function as the previous window. The only difference is that the user can check the "Try all standard pallets" box in order to create loads that use all the standard pallets in the list.
Load Properties (including shipping pallet)
This section serves the same purpose as in the primary package input window. Type the load data to calculate your boxes.
Selecting "Recalculate" from the Tools menu will provide the results for the data that was entered in the Input Window and move on to another window. If the data does not lead to any possible solution, the program will show an error message.