Robots improve efficiency

Wrigley’s in Australia uses robots to lower labour costs and improve flexibility in producing its world-famous chewing gum.

Automation of process

In 2005, Wrigley’s in Australia started to look for automation solutions to address issues such as high direct labour costs, health and safety risks associated with manual handling and restricted floor space.

Solutions not only had to address these issues but had to be flexible to accommodate change in product and packing medium, be low cost and easy to maintain, and be economically priced as a capital purchase.

In response, the company invested heavily in a plant in Sydney which services the Pacific market.

The new facility was designed, manufactured and commissioned by Hot Melt & Packaging Systems (HMPS) a domestic producer of special purpose automated packaging solutions including robot application technology.

As Wrigley’s and HMPS engineers worked on this project, it became obvious that the conventional case packer approach first considered was not going to deliver the goods in meeting all the required parameters.

In particular, it could not supply the required flexibility to introduce new products quickly and cost efficiently.

The team finally decided to go for a solution that combined the adaptability of robotics and the packaging know-how and experience of HMPS.

The decision having been made to go the robotics route, Wrigley’s and HMPS designers and engineers were able to come up with a layout and design to do the job.

Warehouse application

The proposed installation consists of six robot packing cells operating in two groups of three.

The task for each cell is to erect a carton, pack into the carton the requisite quantity of Wrigley’s products and push the loaded carton onto an out-feed conveyor that takes the product from the group of three cells to an elevator and eventually through to a carton sealing unit.

Each cell contains an ABB IRB 2400 robot, that takes a blank regular slotted carton (RSC) from the magazine by means of a vacuum head, squares the carton and places it on a holding station.

The robot then takes the product off the in-feed accumulation conveyor and proceeds to pack the carton until full.

Once full, the carton is transferred using the robot head out onto the common out-feed conveyor.

A floating operator is all that is necessary to keep all three carton magazines filled with RSC blanks for each of the robot cells.

Demanding customer

Wrigley’s gave HMPS the go-ahead for the project in November 2005 with a required completion date for installation in mid 2006, which was achieved by HMPS.

According to Ross Hannaford, engineering manager at Wrigley’s, the company has been impressed with the results and has found the process of installation and commissioning to be comparatively painless.

The success of the project is due to a combination of a demanding customer that had the courage to be innovative, a supplier in HMPS that understands packaging and robot applications, as well as the reliability of the robust robots.

Why robots?

With the help of HMPS, Wrigley’s in Australia has used robots to improve production with:

• Flexibility that can accommodate change in product and packing medium

• Easy maintenance

• Lower direct labor costs

• Better health and safety environment for workers

For more information contact ABB Australia manager – robot channel Peter Bradley.

www.abb.com

www.wrigley.com.au

LXE improves supply chain performance

Rugged mobile computing and data-collection solutions provider LXE Inc has announced it is targeting the retail and distribution industries with the introduction of the MX8 handheld data collection computer.

The new MX8, LXE’s smallest and lightest mobile computer, is designed for businesses seeking to increase productivity and flexibility from in-store and backroom data capture applications.

The MX8 handheld computer is a critical new piece of LXE’s comprehensive line of rugged, ergonomically superior handheld devices that includes the ultra-rugged MX5, the MX3X (the industry’s only horizontal, half-screen handheld) and LXE’s flagship handheld, the MX7.

The MX8 rugged handheld computer is LXE’s smallest handheld offering, measuring a mere 7.6″ long (19cm) and weighing in at only 12.25 ounces (350g).

The touch screen is a brilliant QVGA LCD, and backlit keys ensure total visibility in less-than-optimum lighting conditions.

Scanning options include standard-range scanner, 1D and 2D imagers. The MX8 computer comes standard with an IEEE 802.11a/b/g radio and Bluetooth technology, uses the most powerful CPU in its class, has memory to spare and runs on Windows® CE 5.0 Professional.

The MX8 is “Born Rugged, Not Made RuggedTM” – specialised plastics absorb impacts; solid state, industrialised electronics resist shock and vibration; and a fully ruggedised display and keyboard can handle the rigors of rugged light industrial operations.

The MX8 is “voice-ready” out of the box, complete with LXE’s ToughTalkTM voice recognition technology.

ToughTalkTM Technology is the specialised combination of LXE’s trademark ruggedised system design, advanced audio circuitry and noise-cancelling techniques, which enable the MX8 handheld computer to support today’s industrial-grade voice recognition applications.

With the MX8, customers can run voice logistics applications and traditional barcode scanning applications on the same unit.

For more information on the MX8 handheld computer go to www.lxe.com.au

Polaris signs with Toll

Toll Holdings Ltd has made an exclusive deal with Polaris Metals NL on service agreements for ore haulage, port and ship loading services for the company’s Poondano and Yilgarn iron ore projects in Western Australia.

Polaris signed a deal with Toll for its Singapore-based marine logistics arm, Sembawang Kimtrans Ltd (SKL), and other Toll operations to work towards finalising service agreements.

Polaris said the proposed deal was expected to result in substantial up-front capital costs savings for Polaris and accelerated receipt of export income as a result of Toll’s SKL providing flexibility during the ramp up to full production.

Toll is one of the Asian region’s leading providers of integrated logistics services, generating consolidated revenues of $7.5 billion.

Polaris holds iron ore tenements spanning more than 4,700 square kilometres across Western Australia’s premier iron ore regions of the Pilbara and the Yilgarn.

Source: Industry Search

Coast to coast for QR

Rail freight and logistics company QR Ltd is seeking a slice of the $400 million-plus east-west rail freight market when it begins intermodal (container) services from Melbourne to Perth .

On 13 November, a train operated by QR’s QRNational Intermodal business will pull out of the North Dynon terminal in Melbourne bound for Forrestfield in Perth’s industrial hub.

QR Ltd (formerly Queensland Rail) operates services between Cairns and Adelaide but for the first time next month will be able to offer a national service after securing prime paths on the east-west corridor for three services per week.

QR started intermodal services between Brisbane and Melbourne in 2004 and last year added Adelaide as a destination.

“This will be a significant event in the 142 year history of QR because east-west services were the missing piece of our strategy to build a national freight business,” says QR’s Acting Chief Executive Stephen Cantwell.

“The objective underpinning this strategy is to provide our current and future customers with a competitive service on the east-west corridor while adding to our already established services on the east coast.”

“After securing prime pathing QRNational Intermodal can deliver customers’ products to Perth with freight available early in the morning on the day of arrival,” he says.

Each week QRNational Intermodal services will leave Melbourne on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with a cut-off of 3pm and will arrive in Perth on Friday, Sunday and Monday, which are within the ‘market receival windows’ for deliveries to the Western Australian capital.

The services will use a 1,200m train with a capacity of 175 TEU (20 foot equivalent unit) containers which are between 6.1 metres and 16.1 metres long and up to 3.2 metres high.

The train will be capable of carrying most dangerous goods except explosives and radio-active material, will have bottom-lifting capacity of 35 tonnes and will hub in Adelaide.

“The market has been seeking an alternative on this corridor for a long time and we believe our entrance offers customers a real national choice from Cairns to Perth,” Cantwell says.

“Truly commercially sustainable competition will enable the rail industry to take the forefront in the anticipated growth of the freight sector into the next 10 years and QRNational’s launch into the important Perth corridor enhances our position for customers to get their freight on an environmentally sustainable platform in this growing corridor.”

QR has implemented its national strategy via organic growth and acquisitions including NSW linehaul freight operator INTERAIL in 2002, one of Australia’s largest logistics companies CRT Group in 2005 and bulk freight haulage company ARG in 2006.

The latest acquisition was in August when CRT bought Golden Bros, a family-owned logistics company.

Gold Bros is a national business providing specialised transport and logistics solutions to customers in the polymer, food and industrial sectors, with six national distribution centres and employing over 300 personnel.

Falls from heights too common

According to Bailey — a Hills Industries company — too many Australians die or suffer injuries each year because of falls from heights at work.

“From our work with companies Australia-wide, we find that warehouse and transport companies generally face some complex situations when it comes to protecting workers from falling from heights,” says Hills Industries’ Marketing Manager for Home and Hardware Products, John Chinn.

“This is significant when you consider that falls from heights are the second greatest cause of workplace deaths in Australia.

“Between July 2003 and June 2004, 22 Australians died after falling from a height at work.”

“Another study has shown that over a 10-year period, $2 billion was spent in Victoria alone on workplace injury claims that resulted from falls from heights.

“The human and economic cost of falls from heights is significant.

“As a manufacturer of safe access products, we are saddened to hear these figures when there are options available to employers to help reduce or prevent workplace falls.”

Chinn says falls from heights could be reduced or prevented by following three simple steps.

“The first step is to identify workplace hazards and eliminate them where possible,” he says.

“This involves an audit of any areas where employees are required to climb to a height and considering whether those heights can be avoided.”

“The law states that if there is a hazard in the workplace it must be removed. If removal is not possible, by law the employer is required to take some form of action to protect their workers.”

“The second step involves defining what type of access tool will make the workplace safer, where height access is necessary.”

“There are a number of different access products available, so it comes down to selecting the right one for the job.”

Chinn says safe access products for logistics companies included:

Ladders — Ideal for light, temporary access duties that have short duration and preferably without frequent use.

Platform stepladders and stock picking ladders — Designed for frequent light duties. A stock picking ladder is similar to a stepladder, but with a larger platform and handrail. Some also feature a safety gate to further help prevent falls. Platform stepladders and stock picking ladders are commonly used in warehouses, storerooms and retail outlets to access products stocked high on shelves. These types of ladders are also frequently used on construction sites.

Fixed and mobile scaffolding — A correctly set up scaffold system is WorkCover’s preferred work method when it is necessary to work at heights, as it provides a fully-fenced, stable work platform that can allow access to multiple levels if required. Available in mobile or fixed configurations. Commonly used during truck maintenance.

Custom-built work platforms — For use where access to a truck is required. The custom-built work platform is pushed alongside the vehicle, making it safer for the worker to load or unload.

“If an employer is unsure which safe access tool is most appropriate for their workplace, they should ask whether their supplier can undertake a site visit to advise and assist,” Chinn says.

Chinn says the third step involved providing adequate training for employees.

“Training will enable employees to determine which of the safe access tools available to them is most appropriate for the job, and will help to ensure they are able to use these products safely,” he says.

“Training courses are available to help workers better understand the risks associated with working at heights and how those risks can be avoided.”

According to Chinn, following these three steps might help employers reduce or prevent falls in their workplace.

“No employer wants to have of falling from a height at work,” he says.

“Removing hazards, choosing appropriate access tools and providing adequate training can help to prevent this from occurring.”

For further information call 1300 300 564 or visit www.ladders.com.au

Count-down to TraceTech-ID

TraceTech-ID, the inaugural event for Track & Trace – the monitoring of critical events in the supply chain – takes place next week, 23-24 October, Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh Sydney.

Logistics Sessions chaired by our own David Doherty, SCLAA and featuring Gerry Wind of CHEP, Renzo Bevinetto & Brett Armitage of IFC Global Logistics

Technology Sessions chaired by Frank Dorrian, RFIDba, with Sean Sloan GS1, and a panel with Scott Austin, Sunshine Technologies, Dave Ffowcs Williams Blackbay and Sean Sloan

Industry Sessions, chaired by Michael O’Sullivan NSW Dept. of State and Regional Development with Daniel Russell, Cannington Mine & Kobus du Plessis, Computer Science Corporation

Food & Agricultural Case Studies chaired by Nick Smale, CSIRO with Aaron Iori, Meat & Livestock Australia

AFSMI presents John Falconer Air Liquide and Geoff Bowker Spectrax on workforce mobility.

Packaging Sessions chaired by Ray Chappelow FAIP, Scale Components with Mark Luft, AAIP – Dy-Mark, Phil Biggs, Matthews.

Asset Management Session chaired by Geoffrey Ramadan, ADCA with Group Captain Hayden Marshall, RAAF.

Transport Sessions chaired by AFSMI with Wayne Harper, Motorola and Chris Koniditsiotis Transport Certification Australia.

Cold Chain Sessions chaired by John Howell, RWTA with Colin Baskin, Comvita, Don Richardson Ceebron and Dr Nick Smale CSIRO.

THREE KEYNOTES: from Oracle, Canon and Deloittes, an exhibition of leading technologies, plus the SCLAA NSW will have a stand to meet and greet new and prospective members, and a free drinks reception on Tuesday 23 October sponsored by Supply Chain Consulting.

JOIN THE EXPERTS AT THE LAUNCH OF AUSTRALIA’S NEWEST EVENT FOR SUPPLY CHAIN & LOGISTICS

Grain handler faces fines

Legal action by the Roads and Traffic Authority, over 300 alleged breaches of chain

of responsibility laws against a grain operator, is a wake-up call to the business

community to improve its compliance with road laws, especially in relation to mass

limits.

According to the NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), the $18.2 million prosecution launched by the RTA upon the publicly listed, major grain operator GrainCorp relates to a period of just three days of business operations.

For the business community, this prosecution is a signal that road transport laws need to rate much higher on their corporate risk register.

“A prosecution that is potentially seeking fines equivalent to $6 million per day is something most businesses would only ever expect to see from the ACCC,” says ATA NSW Manager, Hugh McMaster.

“The mere fact that this prosecution has been launched is a clear wake up call to Australian businesses,” he says.

“Businesses need to pay close attention to how they select their road transport operator and whether their firm is being exposed to prosecution risks in this area.”

McMaster says the RTA last week issued advice to the grain sector on the importance of compliance with chain of responsibility laws.

”The RTA’s advice indicated that it used its new investigative powers to compulsorily acquire business records concerning a three day period of the 2005 Grain Harvest; the RTA analysed every truck movement into grain receivable facilities that occurred in those three days,” Mr McMaster says.

“The RTA has advised ATA NSW that the alleged breaches, which are the subject of this action, arise from this investigation.”

With penalties of $27,500 for a first offence and $55,000 for second and subsequent offences, GrainCorp faces potential fines totalling $18.2 million or slightly over $6 million per day.

McMaster says ATA NSW welcomes the action taken because it is directed towards a party in the supply chain the RTA believes is capable of influencing onroad compliance with chain of responsibility laws in NSW.

“Prior to the introduction of chain or responsibility laws in 2005, in areas related to heavy vehicle mass, dimensions and load restraint, the truck operator was the only party who could be charged with an offence,” McMaster says.

ATA NSW will support the actions of the RTA against any party and in any sector of the supply chain, especially where the RTA suspects systemic breaches of the law.

Focus on stress at Safety Conference

Skills used by NASA astronauts to survive a crisis in space are being adopted by industry to save lives on the ground, a behavioural expert says.

Werner Naef will reveal how managers and staff can change their behaviours under stress at The Safety Conference in Sydney on October 25.

Hosted by the Safety Institute of Australia’s NSW division and sponsored by WorkCover NSW, the conference is expected to draw about 1000 delegates to hear from 60 local and overseas experts.

The Process Communication Model (PCM) that Dr Terry McGuire introduced at NASA to recruit and train astronauts is now being applied around the world by organisations operating in high risk areas — such as health, emergency management and government agencies.

The model is designed to pre-empt life-threatening dysfunctional behaviour that can erupt in the midst of a crisis.

For example, Naef says, a pilot’s stress when he got into trouble ultimately resulted in the plane crashing into a hillside when approaching the runway, killing 24 people.

“During the approach, the captain under stress lost the overview, where the plane was relative to the runway, and descended below minimum safe altitude. The co-pilot tried to intervene but only tentatively — to no effect.”

Naef says similar issues conspired in the overdosing death of a two-month-old baby in hospital, and in serious injuries sustained by an experienced welder when a disc disintegrated in an angle grinder.

Compliance with safe procedures is essential under any circumstances and, says Mr Naef, the key is an understanding of human behaviour.

“As we get trapped in situations, and stress levels increase, miscommunication and highly predictable stress patterns kick in,” he says.

“We are hijacked from operating in the ‘green’ range and enter the ‘yellow’ or even ‘red’ range — outside our comfort zone. We then find ourselves, together with our staff, in a destructive loop, doing things that in hindsight were completely out of place.”

Naef says behavioural markers indicate when something is going wrong, deep down.

“Using PCM, managers and staff can decode behaviour by analysing communication patterns, facial expressions and body language that are linked to people’s psychological structure and associated processes,” he says.

“Once you understand those linkages, you can anticipate — in a highly predictable way — behavioural patterns that often unknowingly sabotage one’s professional and private life.”

“The key to successful management of stressed or dysfunctional team members lies in an early identification of such behaviour, miscommunication and mismanagement.”

“Nobody wants to kill — but people die because they do not comply. The missing link in human factors is to connect communication and stress management with the individual’s personality and its predictable responses.’’

Werner Naef will explain how Process Communication Model works during his address at The Safety Conference Sydney, which will run from October 24 to 26 at the Southee Complex, Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.

For details, contact Australian Exhibitions & Conferences on 03 9654 7773, safety@aec.net.au or visit www.thesafetyshow.com.

Mercury Awards deadline extended

Some of Australia’s highest profile companies are throwing their hats into the ring to participate in the Logistics Mercury Awards.

The likes of Linfox, Schenker Australia, Queensland Rail, Maersk, Parmalat Australia and Bega Cheese are all in the running for hotly contested awards in this year’s event.

Unilever Australia was last year’s winner both in the Retail Category and “Best of the Best” a category drawn from the most outstanding finalist.

Customer Supply Chain Manager to Coles Myer Howard Evens accepted the two Awards in recognition of Unilever’s many years of innovation in Supply Chain strategy and collaboration.

“This achievement was very humbling,” Evans says. “It has reverberated through the organisation, attracting some strong interest from our people overseas.”

Runner up in the Retail category was Hills Industries known for its iconic product the Hills Hoist. The company is now a major national supplier and retailer of industrial and hardware products.

“While an honour, it came as a bit of a shock to firstly receive the nomination, but to actually receive an award was a total but pleasant surprise,” operations manager finished goods logistics, Shaun Scales tells Logistics Magazine.

“The award provided some much deserved “positive” feedback to all the people within Hills Logistics that they are doing a good job, and their efforts and hard work are paying off.”

“We spend a great deal of time looking for opportunities to improve our business, which means we sometimes find ourselves concentrating on the “nega­tive” things happening around us. An award such as the Logistics Mercury Award is a positive affirmation that we are heading in the right direction.”

Entries are now being received for judging in Logistics Magazine’s 2007 Mercury Awards program.

By popular demand, the deadline has been extended to Wednesday October 24. To enter just fill in our simple and easy application form, available on request from Anna Game-Lopata:

anna.game-lopata@reedbusiness.com.au 02 9422 2645

About the Mercury Awards.

Initiated and co-ordinated by Logistics Magazine, the publication of choice for decision-makers in Australia’s vibrant logistics industry, the awards are open to all individuals, teams and companies regardless of size who work in, contribute to logistics strategy and/or execute supply chain design and management.

Proudly sponsored by Toyota Material Handling, Chep Asia Pacific, TIG International, SmartTrans Limited, ProActive Recruitment and Dematic, the Mercury Awards are designed to enable supply chain management and logistics organizations to reap the rewards of innovation in their many specific fields of expertise.

Why Enter? Logistics professionals are driving a rapidly growing industry — increasingly the key to our nation’s economic progress.

As a professional, nominating a young professional for a Mercury Award is an excellent way of recognising the importance of supply chain management and logistics along with all the hard work your company has put in over the past year.

Other 2007 Mercury categories include

• Logistics Leader, sponsored by SmartTrans will reward proven Logistics industry service excellence and supply chain management

• Young Professional of the Year, sponsored by ProActive Recruitment recognizes outstanding, new recruits to the industry who are under 30

• Top Transport, Distribution and Logistics Provider is a new category generously sponsored by CHEP Asia Pacific will reward innovative approaches taken by Australian 3PLs or LLPs that bring about significant competitive advantage for their customers.

• Technology Application generously sponsored by TIG International showcases the highly creative application of technology in a supply chain context

• Australian Export, showcases excellence in import-export supply chain innovation and strategy

• Best Manufacturer, generously sponsored by Toyota Materials Handling, rewards supply chain excellence in a manufacturing context

Award winners will be presented with their trophy at a gala event to be held on December 5 2007 at the Anchorage Room, Waters Edge. Walsh Bay, Sydney

For more information online: http://www.logisticsmagazine.com.au/Awards.aspx

DHL launches “paperless” service to streamline shipping

Global express and logistics company DHL, has launched the world’s first shipping service that eliminates the need for manual paperwork, therefore dramatically streamlining international business processes.

The new service is especially appealing for small to medium-sized businesses where time is sensitive.

DHL’s customers can now submit shipment details electronically using DHL eMailShip, an industry-first that allows air waybills and other required paperwork to be prepared offline using the Adobe Acrobat PDF or Microsoft Excel format.

Once complete, the shipment details are submitted to DHL electronically via email. On receipt of the completed forms, customers receive a confirmation email with an attached air waybill and the necessary declaration forms to print and attach to their shipment.

In addition to easier shipment processing, users can also arrange shipment pick-ups at the click of a mouse and access shipment documents without having to search through files of paperwork.

It also allows details entered in previous electronic forms to be re-used for subsequent shipments.

DHL’s Senior Vice President Oceania Mr Gary Edstein says the company’s aim is to constantly raise-the-bar with innovations that make shipping through DHL a smooth and cost-efficient process for businesses.

“The introduction of DHL eMailShip is an example of an innovative but simple solution to help our customers save time and effort,” he says.

“The process is now closer to our customers’ communications work flows, which are increasingly dominated by electronic means, and will also allow us to enhance response time.”

The easy-to-use DHL eMailShip does not require additional software installation, password or hardware, beyond the basic configuration of a PC equipped with Internet connection, email system, the relevant Acrobat Adobe or Microsoft Excel programs and a printer.

To download a complimentary copy of eMailShip, please visit www.dhl.com.au where a handy user-guide with step-by-step instructions for using the tool is also available.

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