Mammut raises logistics performance with new distribution centre

Mammut recently celebrated its 150th anniversary with a new 25 million EURO distribution centre (DC) at Wolfertschwenden in Germany’s Allgäu region, 12km south of Memmingen.

In the mid-90s, Mammut had a turnover of around 30 million Euros. Today Mammut’s turnover is more than 185 million Euros.

Accordingly, its logistics requirements have increased substantially over the years, with the company’s distribution centre already having to move twice since its German business was established in 1987.

Mammut previously operated two main warehouses in Europe – one at Seon in Switzerland and one at Memmingen in Germany.

“By 2009 it became clear our warehouses were too small and we started investigating a new central distribution location in Europe,” explained MSG’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, Josef Lingg.

“Since about 70% of our turnover is generated in the EU, we opted for a location directly on the A7 in Germany. In addition to locating the DC on an optimal traffic route for distribution and its proximity to Switzerland, the availability of our experienced logistics staff in Memmingen was an important factor,” he said.

In late 2009/early 2010 Mammut began working on a concept for a new manually-operated DC, which included renting a three-floor, multi-functional logistics building with a total area of 38,000m2. However, projected high operating costs for the DC forced Mammut to revisit the concept before proceeding.

A cost-saving, intelligent logistics solution

In March 2010 Dematic was given the task of checking the manual concept against part or full automation.

“Dematic has earned a good reputation in warehouse technology with excellent order picking and handling services, and presently justifies its market lead in the area of shuttle technology,” said Lingg.

Dematic analysed Mammut’s inventory and order profiles during average and peak seasons, forecast turnover and volume growth up to 2015, and also took into account Mammut’s desire to pick and pack according to item type.

A new logistics concept was developed with a highly automated solution clearly delivering the optimum combination of return on investment (ROI), performance and operating costs.

Dematic’s automated DC concept reduced the space required for the new DC from 160,000 m3 to 130,000 m3, which enabled Mammut to lower the total investment in buildings and logistics from 27.5 to 25 million Euros.

“Construction costs could also be reduced from 22.5 million Euros to 15 million Euros,” Lingg added.

As well as reducing fixed costs, Dematic’s automated DC concept also significantly reduced operating and labour costs. Dematic’s solution also minimises energy use, with only minimal heating and lighting required in the 90,000 m3 Multishuttle warehouse.

From signing the contract in May 2011 to the scheduled commencement of operations on November 1, 2012, Dematic only had 17 months in which to implement the new DC.

Refreshing the supply chain

Mammut took the opportunity presented by building the new DC to optimise its entire supply chain and, with its suppliers, to implement a new uniform packaging concept.

Cartons with snap-on lids in two basic sizes – small (400x600mm) and large (800x600mm) – are geared to the new system,eliminating the need for trays or bins. After picking, the cartons can also be reused for shipping, saving around 200,000 cartons per annum.

Key elements of the DC include:

Inbound goods: Stock is typically received in shipping containers and unloaded onto a telescopic conveyor, where carton weights are automatically checked for accuracy.

Rapid Store replenishment warehouse: All cartons are initially stored in the six-aisle, 140,000 bay replenishment warehouse, which has a total of six RapidStore SRMs capable of handling two small cartons at a time, and can store or retrieve cartons up to three deep per bay. Items required for picking are moved from here into the Multishuttle warehouse.

The warehouse is also utilised as temporary storage for pre-labelled customer cartons, which can be cross-docked directly to the shipping area.

Multishuttle picking warehouse: The heart of Mammut’s new DC is the four-aisle Multi shuttle picking warehouse with 12 storage levels providing a total of 20,000 bays. Each storage level has its own shuttle and each aisle has its own lift, so that put-away and retrieval can be handled simultaneously on different levels, with up to 600 double cycles per aisle per hour. A feature of the system is the first use of Dematic’s new lighter, faster and more economical Multishuttle 2.

“As a result of the new control,communication and sensor concept, the Multishuttle 2 can process the cartons directly without the use of additional trays, and this was an important requirement for Mammut,” Dematic’s Project Manager, Udo Rogowsky said.

Within the Multishuttle system, only items required for orders are kept in stock, which enables the system to be half the height of the replenishment warehouse. Because of this it was possible to house the Multishuttle system on the upper floor, enabling additional space on the ground floor to be kept free for inbound goods and shipping functions.

Inventory staging buffer: A sequencing tower pre-sorts cartons from the Multishuttle system and conveys them in the required order assembly sequence to nearby order picking stations.

“This enables heavy items to be sorted first and then the sorting of clothes according to size and colour, so that they are shelf-ready when they arrive at the store,”  Rogowsky said.

Goods-to-Person (GTP) picking: With the aid of a pick-to-light (PTL) system, up to three orders can be processed simultaneously at each of the four order picking stations. PTL displays indicate how many items must be removed from each carton and put to the relevant orders.

Approximately 400 order lines with an average of three items per line can be processed at each picking station each hour.

Value-added services stations: Some orders must be processed at the value-added services stations, which are situated beside the picking stations and are connected to the conveyor system. Here special tags or customised label sizes and label designs are attached to the goods,coat-hangers are removed or special cartons used.

Packing stations: Orders received by 1.00pm are processed the same day and assembled for shipping. From the picking station, the order goes down by lift to four packing stations on the ground floor. Here the operators insert consignment notes and other shipping documents into the cartons, and label the sealed cartons.

Outbound goods: Cartons are then either conveyed to a palletising station to be shipped by a freight contractor, or to one of two telescopic conveyors in the outbound area for packages going to Germany and Switzerland.

Dematic's system scores top marks

Dematic’s Material Flow Controller (MFC) receives transport orders from Mammut’s Warehouse Management System (WMS), calculates the route distances, and generates and manages transport orders according to priority, sequence and status. In addition, MFC controls the conveyor system and manages system operation, with any bottlenecks, disruptions and system capacity issues considered when orders are issued.

Dematic’s Logistics Cockpit gives the warehouse manager information about the current state of the entire system, and provides the necessary tools to supervise the processes and functions efficiently. 

Commenting on Dematic’s performance Mammut’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, Josef Lingg, said: “it was a great achievement that we could actually start operations with such a complex project on the exact date.”

“Dematic for us is not only a supplier, but a long-term strategic and fundamentally important partner.”

Manufacturers outsource transport to overcome delivery problems

When paper bag manufacturer, the O’Kelly Group, considered outsourcing its delivery transport, General Manager Sarah O’Kelly was caught between running their own transport as they always had and moving to a more modern approach of doing business.

Previous generations of the company, established in 1948, were hesitant about outsourcing but O’Kelly said the company needed to consider more flexible approaches to transport.

“We have to deliver when we are expected to no matter what. Not delivering is not an option.

“If a driver was absent it created problems. We would re-allocate staff from the warehouse or elsewhere to do the deliveries. But then we’d be one down and those areas of the business would be affected, so it made sense to outsource.”

O’Kelly said that her father and grandfather’s generation would have been worried about loss of control when outsourcing. This time the manufacturer, operating one of Australia’s largest paper bag manufacturing facilities at its Dandenong processing plant, decided to start small.

O’Kelly engaged national transport company Ontime Group to provide one driver and vehicle around five years ago. Over time this has increased to four, and occasionally more during busy times.

“It was a big decision because the company had managed its own transport for about 60 years. But we put one driver on and it went really well so we gradually increased our commitment,” she said.

Delivery demands are high and constant – it has four to five trucks conducting 750 deliveries a week, close to 40,000 per year. Product includes paper bags, both flat and satchel, which are used for fast food, bottle bags, mushroom bags, grease-proof sheets and more.

The company is also a distributor of other products in the fast food container range such as coffee cups and plastic containers. But paper bags account for 40% of business.

O’Kelly says that outsourcing transport has saved costs but that some benefits would be hard to quantify. “There is a saving but it was never about that for us. It was about the cost of interruption to the business, and it’s hard to quantify that.

“The flexibility would have a financial benefit but it’s not always easy to put a number on it.

“When running your own fleet you’re dealing with vehicle costs, breakdowns, maintenance. Something could go on a truck and you’re up for $2,000. But then you don’t have access to the vehicle either so you need to cover by short-term leasing a vehicle.”

The biggest benefit is flexibility to manage resources, according to O’Kelly. She says the increase in control was an unexpected benefit and contradicted her initial worries about outsourcing.

Having regular back-up drivers on standby covers absenteeism and spikes in demand. “We have one driver who has been with us for years. He stayed on with us when we switched to Ontime, but has unfortunately had to take four months sick leave this year. So we used an Ontime back-up driver during that time and have been able to keep the position open for our driver when he recovers and returns.”

Public holidays were always a problem previously due to the backlog of orders that weren’t able to be delivered on the day. But O’Kelly says it’s now solved by booking extra drivers either side of the holiday.

For a period of time O’Kelly has added an extra driver one day a week to manage a slightly increased load. “We can add a driver easily, which is important for growing our business. But doing it ourselves, the capital investment to add even one driver is huge.”

Ontime’s drivers are managed through one contact point. “They are part of our team. We treat them like employees. They wear our uniform, they are here every day. We can’t have couriers doing their role.”

Delivery transport is also a day-to-day issue for Plyco, an independent Australian manufacturer, distributor and retailer of timber-based panel product. Plyco has a small plywood processing plant where it can produce low volume, specialty orders for boat builders, cabinet makers, joinery, musical instruments and other requirements.

The business is growing strongly and conducts approximately 50 deliveries a week to its customers. For transport Plyco uses a combination of its own small fleet and an outsourced component, consisting of a Tautliner managed by Ontime Group.

The decision to partially outsource the delivery fleet came down to reliability, according to business owner David Garvey.

He said customers in joinery shops and factories run tight schedules and can’t afford deliveries being late. “There has been a slight cost saving but reliability was the main thing. It’s a time-sensitive product and we risk losing customers if we are late too often.”

But he said the company was having issues getting and keeping reliable drivers on that delivery run. “We had issues replacing them on sick days. We would either have to draft someone from the warehouse or if we were really desperate I would have to do it.”

Garvey said that absenteeism had effectively been solved by outsourcing, as the onus is on Ontime to arrange suitable replacements.

The result is more reliability and efficiency. “Deliveries are now more regular, and having access to a Tautliner has improved efficiency because it means we can deliver in any weather conditions, whereas previously with an open tray we couldn't delivery in heavy rain.”

Garvey said Plyco was opening a new distribution warehouse next year and would consider more outsourcing to cater for any increase in deliveries.

The most hilarious, gruesome forklift training safety video ever [video]

Logistics & Materials Handling brings you a fantastic, hilariously gory forklift training video from the 1980s.

Whilst being in German, it does have subtitles, and quickly goes over the top with the 'horrors' that can occur when you don't approach forklift safety properly.

Despite being more than nine minutes long, we highly recommend you watch it right through to the end.

Enjoy.

{^youtubevideo|(width)480|(height)295|(rel)True|(url)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oB6DN5dYWo|(fs)True|(loop)False|(autoplay)False^}

FactCheck: are Australian apprentices ‘disappearing’?

“The previous government oversaw changes to apprenticeship policy and cuts in employer incentives that led to huge drops in the numbers of young people starting an apprenticeship.” – Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, media release, October 30.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has blamed the former government for a fall in the number of young people starting an apprenticeship.

The decline has been labelled in The Australian as “the disappearing trainee” – a legacy of the Labor government linked to its decision to remove employer incentives.

So are Australian apprentices really disappearing?

Disappearing act

There are two types of Australian apprentices. There are those who are learning the skills listed on the National Skills Needs List – like plumbers, hairdressers and electricians – and those who aren’t.

The National Skills Needs List identifies the areas that are experiencing a national skills shortage.

In October 2012, the Labor government reduced the employer incentives for part-time apprentices in non-skills shortage areas. But in August 2013, Labor removed the financial incentives to non-skills shortage apprenticeships entirely.

This meant there were no longer incentives for apprenticeships in retail positions in food, clothing, information technology, horticulture, printing and for dental assistants.

The thinking was that these areas did not need incentives for formal apprenticeships because, by and large, on the job training would suffice.

Facts and figures

The last two years have seen a drop overall in the number of new apprenticeships. But there has been barely any drop in the traditional trade apprenticeships with skill shortages.

Using figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER), in the first nine months of 2012, there was a reduction in apprenticeships overall from 263,500 to 185,300 in the same period in 2013.

As the first chart below shows, the number of new apprentices dropped by 30% this year when combining the total trade and non-trade apprenticeship figures.

But the drop in “trade” apprentices was not nearly as severe. In fact, it was not severe at all when comparing 2012 to 2013.

New apprenticeships, trade and non-trade broken down by month for the year to date 2013 and for 2012. NCVER

The trade apprentice commencement figures show a decline of a mere 1,900 commencements in the first three quarters of 2013 (71,700), when compared with the first three quarters of 2012 (73,600).

In 2012, the total number of traditional trade apprentice commencements was 95,600. If the December quarter for this year sees another 23,900 traditional trade apprentice commencements, which is feasible, then there will be no downturn in traditional trades.

This graph also shows that the number of apprentices from non-traditional trades – the ones Labor’s changes targeted – were on the decline before the first policy shift in 2012. This tells us that the government’s actions are unlikely to be the sole reason behind the decline in these types of apprenticeships.

Youth and apprenticeships

The focus on young people being associated with apprenticeships is a recurring but inaccurate view. The majority of all apprentices (50.27%) were aged 25 years or older in 2012 according to NCVER data.

A little under half are classified as youth. The 2013 figures are not available but this trend is not unusual.

So young school leavers were not particularly affected by the overall downturn in apprenticeships, any more than those over 25 were.

The proportion of apprenticeship commencements by age group. NCVER/Author

Verdict

Under Labor’s watch, there has been a drop in apprentice commencements but only for non-trade apprenticeships. These were on the decline before the employer incentives were withdrawn by Labor, while traditional trade apprentice commencements have remained steady.


Review

This article is helpful and a fair examination of the evidence. The report of the Expert Panel into Apprenticeships for the 21st Century provides the research behind the policy shift discussed. – John Buchanan.

Ever seen a “fact” that doesn’t look quite right? The Conversation’s FactCheck unit asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they really are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article.

You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. They also have no relevant affiliations.The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

Hire and Rental: Getting equipment on site, online

Hire and rental companies traditionally provide miners with equipment they don’t need to own. 

With mining companies after work platforms, cranes, heavy machinery or cars, the hire and rental industry exploded with the boom and is reportedly worth $4 billion, with rental equipment the most sought after when it comes to the mining sector. 

However with companies often looking to hire very specific equipment for their operations, sourcing the right machinery can often be a time-consuming task.  

Problems around finding the right equipment and attachments, availability of machinery, the location of machinery and the plethora of portals on the net can make sourcing the right equipment for mine sites no easy task.  

Working at a mine site in QLD as a civil engineer, Michael Trusler said he saw the difficulty in sourcing plant and equipment to hire for mine site construction projects. 

“I found the process of finding plant and equipment to hire for the mine sites to be disjointed and difficult,” said Trusler.  

“One reason for this was the amount of safety features and attachments which are required for any one piece of equipment,” he explained.  

Trusler said the lack of availability was also an issue.  

Seeing a gap in the market, Trusler developed an online portal which lists over 400,000 pieces of plant and machinery for hire from more than 700 companies Australia-wide. 

PlantMiner.com.au has been live for three months, and in that time Trusler said it has already received over $20 million of quote requests and enquiries. 

The site presents itself as a one-stop shop for the procurement of plant and hire equipment, stating that there is no longer the need for procurement officers to trawl through thousands of Google and Yellow Pages listings to find what exactly what they’re after.  

“It’s not easy,” a promotional video on the site states. 

“You need one place that does it all for you where you can quickly search for all your plant and equipment needs along with their safety features and attachments.”  

The site works by connecting searchers with the specific plant and equipment for hire that they are looking for, right down to all of the safety features and attachments. 

The search functionality of the site features a location tracker so users are able to see exactly what plant and machinery is immediately available to them in their region.  

While a safety features tab means users can update their search with specific requirements including BMA compliance, hand/safety rails, and mine spec just to name a few.  

Search results then include the availability of equipment and machinery along with pictures, specs, descriptions and the direct contact details of the plant and equipment supplier so users can contact them.  

Expressions of interest can also be sent from the site, as well as tender documents.  

Users can also opt to send a direct enquiry where the supplier will be notified by SMS or email and get back to them.  

The site says it can save businesses time and money by having plant and hire equipment needs in one place.  

Trusler said the site is a highly specialised platform built specifically for searching and screening plant equipment for hire.  

From portaloos to 100-tonne excavators – the website caters for all the equipment. 

The easy-to-use portal breaks down into categories everything a mine site may need including forklifts, generators, lighting, site amenities, excavators and light vehicles.  

While specific industry categories features lists of all the equipment imaginable in that sector.  
For example the ‘mining and construction’ category features graders, chutes, water trucks, tractors and tanks just to name a few.  

While the oil and gas category also shows a list of equipment to hire including dredging hire, misc pump hire and piling equipment.  

And with many companies preferring to stay loyal to the tried and tested, popular brands such as Bell, CAT, Kenworth, Manitou, Hitachi, Crown and Volvo are also listed for users.  

Not only does the site benefit those looking for gear, but also hire and rental companies who may have been affected by the downturn in the mining sector.  

The portal puts hire and rental companies equipment right in front of the eyes of key decision makers – with high quality photos and company logos featuring heavily throughout the differing categories.  

With the initial success of the portal in Australia, Trusler hopes to expand the site into the U.S.A, Eur­ope, and Asian markets this year.

A trip to the new-look, $32 million Veyance factory

Built for a generation

“You make an investment in a piece of equipment like this you’re investing for no less than 30 years,” said John Hamilton, the CEO since 2010 of Veyance Technologies, the US parent company of Veyance Belting.

Veyance Belting has just finished upgrading its Bayswater, Victoria facility after 18 months and a cost of about $32 million. Hamilton shrugged off any suggestion that such an investment might

not have been a great idea in light of the apparent waning in enthusiasm for commodities, with coal and iron ore miners making up about 80 to 85 per cent of Veyance’s customer base.

“Iron ore mining will ebb and flow as commodity prices ebb and flow but it’s always ebbing and flowing on a very strong upwards trajectory,” Hamilton, who travelled out from Oklahoma, told Manufacturers’ Monthly at the facility’s opening.

“All of the independent studies that look at the demand for iron ore, all of the studies that look at the grade of iron ore and the quality of iron ore relative to other parts of the world, the demand in China and the demand for Chinese manufacturing for export all say iron ore is on a strong upward trajectory.

“I’d also feel good about coal. I know coal has its detractors at the moment and it also has its energy competitors, like shale gas, especially where I am. But it’s a very cost-effective source of electricity… So coal is always going to be an essential part of any country’s energy mix, and again the independent studies say it’s going up.”

The upgrade to the Bayswater site – which was first considered in 2002 but rejected by the American parent company, before eventually being successfully pitched in 2011 – has been driven by long-term goals.

“So if [mining] goes up and down in any given year: don’t care,” said Hamilton. “Because we’re investing for a 30-year timeframe.”

The right chemistry matters

Veyance, which leads its market in Australia and several other countries, puts its position down to providing a better value to its customers than anybody else can. It makes a point of mixing its rubber compounds and polymers – which are purchased in US dollars, which adds to its competitiveness while the dollar remains historically strong – in-house.

“That’s one of the things that really distinguishes us,” Veyance Belting’s general manager, David Stone, told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“You can have the best press in the world, but it’s all about how you process those polymers. The press delivers you a means to produce the technology.”

Though the factory’s capabilities have been greatly strengthened in the upgrade, this would not matter without the company’s materials science expertise.

“The technology that goes into it is those different mixes of compounds,” said Stone.

The company employs something like 120 chemists around the world, tweaking and creating the compounds that will determine how well a belt’s surface will do things such as minimise the energy spent moving ore (or other things), rule out static, resist heat damage, and withstand damage caused by having huge amounts of iron ore constantly smashed up against it.

“If you’re looking at it from a customer’s point of view, a mine or even a port, the biggest energy consumer in the operation are conveyor systems,” noted Stone.

“So we’ve been listening to them and delivering rubber compounds with low-rolling resistance, which means that there’s less energy to try and push over the idlers. So it’s very much critical to be in control of that process, designing it, mixing it having control of the whole end-to-end process.”

Stone points out that conveyor belt technology (and its associated services, which Veyance also offer) is not a simple commodity; if this were the case it could be created by anybody.

Veyance also develops compounds tailored to clients’ needs, such as those used in the incredibly lengthy belts for the Curragh Overland Project.

“If you look at the technology required to make these you see today the technology required, the polymers, the rubber design which we do, the actual manufacturing process – it’s not just a straightforward product,” he added.

“So I suppose the way our customers view it, while some of it’s a base price, it’s really the total package and what value we deliver to them.”

Helping Victoria move

Though most business comes from iron ore and coal miners, there are numerous other industries among Veyance’s client list.

“These conveyor belts are absolutely vital to the development and the economy right across Victoria and Australia,” offered Victorian premier Denis Napthine, who, like Stone and Hamilton, helped cut the ribbon at the factory.

“I see these conveyor belts that are made here used in my home patch at Portland Aluminium, where they’re conveying a 4 km conveyor, conveying the alumina, shifting up to the Portland aluminium smelter.

“I see them each and every day at the port of Portland, conveying both hardwood and softwood woodchips from our stockpiles on the ships going to Thailand, Japan and Korea. I see them being used exporting our grain products. Of course a big part of the industry are the massive conveyor belts that are used in the mining industry in our north, with black coal, with iron ore and of course, in our own Latrobe Valley, with brown coal.”

Napthine was happy to list Veyance, which employs 173 people at its Bayswater site and has been operating in Australia since 1965, as one of his state’s manufacturing success stories, helping fuel power needs and move the state’s exports.

“This highlights, once again, that there is an important role for our manufacturing industry in this state,” he added, pointing out that Victoria currently employs more in the sector than it did two-and-a-half years ago.

Manufacturing also contributes significantly to industry gross value-add, with the premier putting this at $27 billion for 2011-12 alone.

“So there is a role and a great future for manufacturing, but it’s manufacturing of the type we’re talking about today: highly skilled, highly technical, world’s best practise manufacturing, advanced manufacturing that is servicing local needs and creating opportunities.”

Ramping things up

The upgrade project – which aims to double Veyance’s overall capacity by about 50 per cent, according to Stone, with earlier reports suggesting it will double the production of belts for its Flexsteel product – is being driven by local demand.

The boost in capacity is put down to three main investments: an investment in increased cranage capacity, a state-of-the-art press for the company’s steel cords, and a new hot former extruder.

The crane capacity investment allows long-length racetrack reels (typically weighing well over 30 tonnes) of coiled belt to be placed on delivery trucks.

he press, by German company Siempelkamp, allows for the individual monitoring of each individually-tensioned steel cord that goes into the company’s belts, with huge productivity benefits along the way.

“What that enables us to do is now manufacture belts now up to ST10,000,” said Stone. “Before our limitation was probably up to about up to ST6,500. Our equipment was only up to two metres wide, this equipment’s now up to 2.6 metres wide.

“And then typically, if you look at the average press around the world, the average length’s about 10 to 11 metres’ length. This is 18.6 metres in length. So you think about then, instead of curing 10 or 11 metres you’re curing 18.6 with the same amount of people, same amount of overhead.”

The demand for steel corded conveyor belts is massive, and Hamilton explained that – not including the company’s Chinese joint venture – the Bayswater factory creates more steel cord than any other in the company’s global network, with the new press to increase things even further.

At the far end of the factory is the hot former extruder, which starts the transition of the carefully-formulated compounds into conveyor belts.

“For our conveyor belt it’s not just the reinforcing material, like the steel cord, that makes a difference,” explained Hamilton.

“It’s the rubber that’s above it and below it, they play very unique roles. The one that’s above it is designed to protect those steel cords from abrasion or impact or things like that. The one below it is what runs on the pulleys and goes around, designed to minimise the energy consumption required to tug that conveyor around the loop.”

Again, both Hamilton and Stone stressed that the upgrades were still considered a sound long-term investment, as has with the recent efforts by the company to move into services in Australia.

For Veyance, the question is “what downturn?”

“For iron ore, if you speak to people like BHP and Fortescue, iron ore will typically chew through conveyor belts every two to three years, so you think about the installed capacity over the last six years, seven years of projects,” said Stone. “Really the installed capacity of conveyor belts out in the field has increased ten-fold in the last ten years.

“I spoke to BHP yesterday and they’re saying, ‘What’s the problem? We’re still shipping as much as we can get out of the ground.’ It doesn’t really matter about the price, that’s irrelevant, as they point out, ‘We’re still using conveyor belts and nothing’s going to change.’”

Sales of automotive proximity and gesture recognition systems shift into high gear

Having already evolved from knobs and dials, to touch screens and voice recognition, automobiles are on the cusp of a new evolution in user-interface technology, as sales of automotive human machine interface (HMI) proximity and gesture recognition systems rise by a factor of 50 during the next decade.

The global market for automotive proximity and gesture recognition systems that allow motorists to control their infotainment systems with a simple wave of their hand will grow to more than 38 million units in 2023, up from about 700,000 in 2013.

Nearly 40 percent of all new automobiles sold worldwide in 2023 will come with some degree of proximity or gesture recognition, according to a new IHS Automotive report entitled “Emerging Technologies: New Human-Machine Interface Trends,” from IHS. 

“The gesture is a natural method of human communication, one that is used subconsciously in everyday interpersonal communications,” said Mark Boyadjis, senior analyst and manager, automotive infotainment, for IHS Automotive.

“Because of this, gestures can be used in control automotive infotainment functions ranging from navigation to satellite radio with minimum driver distraction. This, and other factors, will cause sales of proximity sensing and gesture recognition systems in cars to undergo a rapid expansion in the coming years.”

Compared to other types of emerging automotive HMI systems, proximity and gesture recognition will prove most valuable to end users and be the most widely applicable across different brands, regions, languages, and cultures, IHS predicts.

Gesture recognition is defined as the use of cameras or sensors to track and convert a user’s movements into inputs for the infotainment system without any physical touch input. This would include things like waving a hand to the left or right to change radio presets or go to the next song in a playlist, or turning the hand clockwise or counterclockwise to raise or lower the volume. 

Proximity sensing is the use of smaller, less expensive proximity sensors, typically infrared technology, to detect the user’s hand or another object approaching the display or control knob.

This technology may or may not understand a gesture but rather the presence of the hand or object in proximity. Proximity sensing can be used to bring up menus on a car’s display with frequently used functions, which disappear when not in use.

Basic automotive proximity recognition systems made their debut in 2012 in cars sold by Cadillac and Volkswagen. IHS predicts the first high-resolution gesture systems will appear in 2017.

The Cadillac User Experience, or CUE, was the first system to offer proximity sensing in a mass-market-production vehicle. A pair of infrared sensors just below the screen can detect when the user’s hand approaches the screen and activates frequently used menus, such as a list of mixed presets and navigation options.

These menus would otherwise clutter the screen if displayed constantly, and the proximity sensors are used to reduce the graphical user interface’s complexity after users have made their selection. 

A similar system has also been deployed on the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf with its midrange and premium display radios and navigation systems. This illustrates that proximity systems will not be reserved for premium brands alone.

Further in the future, newer automotive HMI technologies are expected to emerge, including augmented reality displays. Augmented reality is a content stream projected through a display, primarily head-up display (HUD) systems, that would change or augment the driver’s perception of the road or points of interest ahead. Sales of automotive augmented reality systems in vehicles are expected to start in 2015.

CALIDUS Total Logistics Software launches in Australia

OBS Logistics has launched its CALIDUS Total Logistics Software System into the Australian market to help third party logistics services companies and wholesale/distribution businesses increase the efficiency of their transport and warehouse operations.

CALIDUS Total Logistics is a comprehensive logistics operational system and includes warehouse management, transport planning and execution, collection and delivery management and supply chain tracking to optimise complex distribution networks by managing orders, inventory and labour from single or multiple control centres.  

The solution is provided with the option of traditional implementation at the client's premises or using a SaaS approach where companies looking to take advantage of lower upfront investment costs can select from a range of managed service options that combine the benefits of cloud computing with the reassurance of a secure hosting facility owned and managed by OBS Logistics.

OBS Logistics works with some of the leading names in logistics across the world and the move into Australia represents the next step in the expansion of its customer base across the globe.   

Chief of OBS Logistics, Dave Renshaw, said launching into the Australian market represented a key milestone for the software provider.  

"Our launch into the Australian market is an exciting move for OBS Logistics. Our CALIDUS Total Logistics suite has been extremely well received here such that we have already secured business, which has led to us establishing ourselves in the region to grow our business further ,"Renshaw said.  

Whether their customer is a logistics company operating contracts for a number of clients, or an in-house logistics operation working on a dedicated base, CALIDUS Total Logistics' provides a range of features for differing applications.  

The fully integrated system was developed using the latest technologies to provide flexibility  to respond to the changing needs of industry and includes features such as electronic proof of delivery, rail container management and voice directed picking.

Stephen McCartney, head of global business development for OBS said the products had been well received in Australia as more companies looked for ways to improve the way they operate.  

"We are finding that there is a real hunger for products which will allow organisations to improve visibility across the whole operation and supply chain, to improve productivity by bringing their organisations onto one platform, but also to be outward looking at customers not just to offer tracking but seeking to offer add services which are supported by systems processes rather than simply pushing more human resource," McCartney said.  

McCartney said CALIDUS is a suite of products which can be deployed as required allowing customers to address specific business needs.

Optimisation and Planning  
CALDIUS TMS not only plans vehicle trips, but optimises them to make better use of driver miles and reduce empty running miles.  Facilities within the software allow for dynamic routing and scheduling through postcode driven routing, calculation of planned arrival and departure times for each trip to stop meet order windows and support for back loading.  While further efficiencies can be found in the allocation of drivers, tractors and trailers to trips, the analysis of collections, deliveries on the same trip and vehicle limit checks during load builds.

In-Cab Communications  

The software provides interfacing in-cab systems and is being used in conjunction with a number of different third party in-cab solutions as well as OBS Logistics' own EPOD solution to better communicate data.  
Features include the ability to synchronise locations and resource master data, download the manifest and trip plan to the in-cab system and the transmittance of execution data including arrival and departure times and locations. While management level monitoring capabilities and KPI monitoring are also available.  

Execution of Trips  

The software is able to manage the execution of trips from loading and dispatch through to final proof of delivery.  Comprehensive information on the outcome of each collection and delivery captures vehicle check information as well as the collection of information from in-cab systems. The recording of time sensitive information such as start, stop, waiting and adherence to booking slots is also available to ensure efficiency is maintained at all times and any issues can be quickly solved.  

Pallet and Equipment Tracking  

Tracking pallets and equipment is essential in minimising the high cost of losses.
CALIDUS is able to define equipment by type and capture quantity and types of equipment delivered and collected at each stop point. Further, the software provides even greater security with its ability to stock balances of pallets and equipment by type for each depot, pick up and drop point.  

Billing Facilities
With an interface connected to businesses internal financial systems, the billing facilities provided represent further productivity gains. Companies are able to bill based on plans, however any changes made during execution will also be reflected in the billing. Miscellaneous invoicing is also available for ad hoc invoices, while invoice production with the option to email via distribution lists is also available. 

 

When Size Does Matter: Overcoming the Problem of Incorrectly Specified Conveyor Rollers

With today’s global market, the industrialised world has developed international standards to ensure that retrofitting of aftermarket machine parts can be easily achieved, regardless of where in the world the part originated. 

Unfortunately, the conveyor industry seems to be lacking in this initiative, which can cause major headaches for the maintenance engineers of conveyor
components.

Although in Australia there are manufacturing  standards for conveyor rollers, the increase in imported machinery means that it is almost impossible for machinery operators to stick to even local standards. 

Imported machinery can lead to expensive roller replacement, as rollers are often sold as a “machine spare part” and not just a standard conveyor roller.

To reduce their maintenance costs, conveyor operators then turn to the local market for spares such as conveyor rollers and this is where problems can occur. 

To the untrained, a small variation in the length or diameter of a conveyor roller may seem insignificant, but the effect of installing the wrong size roller can ultimately be quite devastating structurally and costly to operations. 

Incorrect belt tracking can result in supports getting butchered in an attempt to make a roller fit.

For nearly 3 decades, bulk materials handling supplier Kinder & Co has focused on solving conveyor issues. 

Neil Kinder, CEO of Kinder, explained that “if correctly done, modifying the roller supports to accommodate the length of the roller may allow the new roller to be installed and operate properly.  But what happens the next time this roller is replaced?  If the same part isn’t supplied, a sloppy or incorrect fit may result in incorrect belt tracking and other potentially major high maintenance problems".

“Whereas correctly specified conveyor rollers will minimise downtime, reduce maintenance labour costs and reduce the often hidden additional costs associated with lost  product.  Also, correctly specifying conveyor rollers means more than just supplying “rough measurements”.  Providing an accurately measured roller length to a supplier can be the difference between a quick installation and a long maintenance shut down and this difference in operational efficiency can be measured in financial terms.

“Conveyor belt tracking is arguably one of the most common headaches for conveyor maintenance engineers and accurately specifying the correct diameter of a conveyor roller can eliminate one potential cause of this problem. 

Again, with so many options available “rough measurements” will lead to the wrong diameter roller being supplied, so accurate measurement of the diameter is essential.”

 

Kmart: Using the supply chain to pull back from the brink

Five years ago, Kmart Australia was on the verge of bankruptcy. Today, the company is one of the most profitable retailers in Australia – a turnaround credited in large part to their supply chain.

The original Kmart stores were set up in Australia in 1968 as a joint venture with the Kmart group in the US. Today, they are 100 percent owned by Wesfarmers and the name is used under a long-term licensing agreement.

In 2008, the retailer was in trouble, caught in the midst of a recession with zero profit.

That same year, Managing Director Guy Russo was hired to lead the turnaround of the struggling company.

Russo set about reducing costs and optimising product selection, but also displayed clear focus, leadership and a strong strategy, which led to a complete overhaul of Kmart Australia’s sourcing and supply chain process.

 

This article originally appeared on Ferret. To read the article in full click here.

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