Illinois-based Mallard Manufacturing, a leader in pallet, carton and gravity conveyor flow solutions, announced last week the opening of its new Innovation Center & Testing Lab in Sterling, Ill., about 65 miles northeast of Davenport, Iowa. 

The 30,000-square-foot facility marks a significant milestone in Mallard's commitment to driving precision from manufacturing processes into systems design and operation, the company said in a March 12 news release. 

The Innovation Center’s simulation testing adds a critical layer to the company’s design process, allowing the “right-fit custom solution” for each client’s needs. In the interactive Testing Lab, customers can engage in real-time with Mallard engineers while their application is tested.

“We expect the lab to run about 200 customer tests in 2024; the two pallet flow lanes and the technology we’ve built into them enable us to meet this ambitious goal,” said Kevin Risch, president of Mallard Manufacturing.  

“Customers connected in the live stream can ask questions and participate in modifications, eliminating design delays and potential adjustments in the field,” Risch added, “[and] we’re excited for the possibilities this extends to our customers.” 

Key Deliverables of the Mallard Innovation Center include:

  • Live Feed/Customer Interactive Simulation Testing: Customers can actively engage in testing, facilitating faster decision-making and adjustments.
  • Improved Testing Capabilities: Two full-size pallet flow lanes, with easy pitch and beam support adjustments, to closely mirror customer rack settings and accurately predict how the system will perform in the field.
  • Increased Production Capabilities & Shorter Lead Times: The facility has automated equipment that enhances production speed and capacity and reduces customer lead times.
  • Innovative Products & Solutions Development: In addition to testing customer designs, the engineering lab will drive product development and innovations in gravity flow.
  • High-Quality Sound & Visuals - Multiple camera angles and noise-canceling technology result in clear communication with test engineers. Zoom capabilities spotlight critical details like damaged pallets or components, showcasing their impact on system performance.

Mallard said the Engineering Test Lab has been a popular option for customers to use before finalizing orders. Testing is completed with customer-supplied pallets and sample inventory to minimize surprises in the field during installation or operation; all tests are recorded, and customers receive a video and detailed report. 

The value-added service is free for Mallard customers.

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