Your latest MHD article: Auto challenges solved

The automotive industry is a powerhouse
The automotive manufacturing industry is one of the most important global economic sectors. Having grown from a nil base at the start of the 20th century to an industry that produced 72.11 million passenger cars in 2016, plus 22.5 million commercial vehicles(1) is remarkable. In revenue this is a global turnover of over €2 trillion(2), which equates to the 6th largest economy in the world, if it were a country. The industry globally employs over 9 million people(2) directly in making vehicles and parts, with each direct auto job supporting another 5 indirect jobs.
But the automotive industry can also top lists in relation to customer quality expectations, variety of products available, and process complexity. It is also an industry that continually must manage change. Since the invention of the modern car in 1886 by Karl Benz, personal vehicles have enabled people to live, work and spend their spare time in ways not possible before.
… and it is here to stay
Today, according to the NRMA(3), private car-based mobility is the preferred form of transport for most Australians. Owning and using your own car is primarily seen as safe, comfortable and peaceful, compared to public transport. This ‘auto mobility’ is so entrenched in the Australian mindset that it can be difficult to see a time where you may not own a vehicle.
The overall vehicle population continues to grow. Registration in Australia has seen steady growth from 14 million vehicles in 2006 to 18.8million in 2017(4).
Even considering some predictions of a tapering off of private car ownership, car sales are not expected to decline in the foreseeable future, with fleet ownership, including car sharing, anticipated to fill any deficit. In a 2017 NRMA report, Matthias Mueller, CEO Volkswagen outlined: “In the future, many people won’t own a car. But they can all be a customer in one way or another, because we will serve a much broader concept of mobility than today.” (3)

The future of automotive aftermarket looks bright
Within the general automotive industry, the aftermarket and spare parts sector can be identified separately and treated differently, and currently it is experiencing steady growth.
Revenue for this sector in Australia stands at $5.2 billion with annual growth of 2.5% in the five years to 2018, and the industry is expected to outperform the overall economy over the ten years to 2023. 5. The global aftermarket industry should reach $722.8 billion by 2020. (6)
One contributor is the increase in the average age of cars on the road. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017 car census(4), in Australia the average age is 10.1 years, with campervans the only category to record a decrease since 2010. In the USA, the average age of passenger vehicles is 11.6 years, which has continually risen. As people keep their vehicles longer and are placing more importance on preventative maintenance to maximise vehicle life, demand for aftermarket parts is increasing, making it important for spare parts suppliers to become smarter and more efficient with their supply chain and stock management. (7)
Why the automotive aftermarket logistics is unique
The automotive aftermarket sector is a very different industry, with unique logistical and stock management characteristics.
One such characteristic is the massive variety of items that are stocked. Parts can vary from replacement parts, lubricants, accessories, cosmetic improvement items, tyres, tools and repair equipment. The required SKU can be both small and large, from a bolt to a door panel; can be both simple and complex, from a floor mat to a clutch assembly; and can be heavy or light, from a short motor to a headlight bulb. This is supplemented by the larger range of vehicle models and options now available, especially with new technologies such as gas/electric hybrids. One single model series of a premium German automobile brand can reach over 1,000 possible automobile variations. (8) The number of distinct SKU handled by the automotive aftermarket has grown enormously: operators can have anywhere from 60,000 to 125,000 SKU in their supply chains. (7)
As well as a massive number of SKU on hand, each can have different stock turnover rates. Some SKU turn over fast, while others might only be ordered annually. Not only is keeping the right parts in stock an issue for the automotive aftermarket DC, but they also need to consider storage options, which make fast-moving SKU easier to access and handle.
Automotive aftermarket industry members have also recently managed the introduction of fast, easy delivery options for ordered parts, and the growth of the online retail market for parts and accessories. All this paints a picture of the automotive aftermarket industry as being one dealing with significant growth and change, and one that needs to be nimble, adaptive and have flexibility built into their DC and logistics management practices. Automotive supply chains need to become more responsive and flexible to remain competitive.
Solutions from an industry specialist
SSI SCHAEFER is recognised worldwide for delivering customised solutions that offer maximum efficiency, no matter the complexity. SSI SCHAEFER has been a partner to the automotive industry for many years and has delivered countless world-class solutions for some of the biggest industry names both in Australia and globally. The comprehensive range of its industry-focused products and solutions provides total logistics systems for automotive spare parts DC operations, which can be tailored precisely to each site’s requirements and focused on those attributes of particular industry importance.
For flexibility to cope with growing demand and changing SKU ranges, SSI SCHAEFER offers an extensive and diverse range of racking, shelving and mezzanine systems for all storage tasks for automotive SKU; from small parts storage to tyre, bumper bar, glass, and exhaust systems to name a few. Every solution is optimally and individually configured to meet specific requirements and can include a large variety of accessories to meet all storage needs. Highest quality, modular configuration, diverse combination options and the greatest flexibility are key features of SSI SCHAEFER solutions.
The R3000 shelving system developed by SSI SCHAEFER is ideally suited to small parts storage. It is a boltless shelving system that can also be used to build multi-tier mezzanines up to four levels high. This fully integrated and customisable product is complemented with a full range of accessories designed to provide almost unlimited options for the automotive industry.
SSI SCHAEFER’s plastic shelf containers are designed with the R3000 shelving system in mind. They create order, no matter the size and complexity of the operation and product range, and the RK series shelf containers achieve maximum cube utilisation within the shelf. Each container can also be separated into multiple compartments with dividers, which can be individually labelled for improved classification of small items. A rear lip is incorporated allowing the container to hang off the shelf for hands-free picking and replenishing.
For the larger items that are a natural part of the auto-parts product range, SSI SCHAEFER offers a variety of sturdy, robust, safe, and expandable pallet rack systems that include pallet racking, cantilever racking and drive-in racking storage as a starting point.

Improving picking productivity
Picking is central to warehouse logistics. SSI SCHAEFER has developed a range of picking systems that incorporate conveyor and software solutions. SSI SCHAEFER’s WAMAS software manages and controls all the intralogistics processes and encompasses efficient and flexible order processing functions. WAMAS is configured and implemented on customer sites by our 1,200-strong global software team, and a highly experienced contingent of Australian-based software engineers.
For more information call +61 2 8799 3600 or visit

  • The future of car ownership August 2017 report by NRMA and
  • IBIS World Motor vehicle Parts retailing in Australia Aug 2017.
  • ‘The Nuts and Bolts of the Automative Aftermarket Supply Chain – Merrill Douglas 20 September 2013.
  • “Supply Chain Management in the Automotive Industry” from

A few case studies

PM Automotive Group (formerly Preston Motors)
The PM Automotive Group is one of Australia‘s leading automotive and spare parts suppliers, trading since 1912. It operates two DC sites in Melbourne to provide better geographical coverage and customer service, and the new Campbellfield DC was commissioned in 2015.
The new system needed to be designed to grow and still has the capacity to accommodate up to a 30% increase in order output. At this DC, Preston Motors holds 50,000 SKU and handles 2,500 picks per day, including accommodating 200-300 emergency orders per day. Orders are despatched three times daily, with guaranteed same-day Melbourne delivery.
Warehouse manager Lou Micevski explains how the SSI SCHAEFER system caters well for the ebbs and flows of the automotive spare parts industry.
“Winter is a busier time, with more crash orders in the bad weather. One of the appealing aspects is that this new high-end system is efficient and quick, and it delivers significant noise reduction and power savings on the previous system.”
Slotting of items is performed on a dynamic basis. Incoming stock is automatically assigned a storage location based on its dimensions, movement and available storage locations. The system, designed and installed by SSI SCHAEFER includes VNA and selective pallet racking, special parts storage racking and shelving, R3000 shelving and mezzanine, plastic containers, and zone divert conveying and sortation system.

Multispares is the largest independent supplier of aftermarket truck and bus parts in Australia and New Zealand. Its products are sourced worldwide from leading manufacturers and specialist suppliers. At its 7,000+ m2 facility in Greystanes, NSW, more than 20,000 pick lines and 500 pallets of truck and bus parts are distributed monthly.
The system installed by SSI SCHAEFER was purpose-built for Multispares national and local branch demands. It maximises pick efficiency and was configured to current requirements but allows expansion to support future growth. It also delivers improved operating efficiency and employee safety.
“Our warehouse operations are critical to customer service delivery. SSI SCHAEFER’s broad range of high-quality storage solutions improved our warehousing efficiency and accuracy, giving us the opportunity to allow for expansion in the future,” said managing director of Multispares Geoff Stewart.
Volkswagen Group Australia

Facing strong automotive parts and accessories growth for the Volkswagen, AUDI and SKODA brands, the NSW-based NDC for Volkswagen Group Australia constantly reviews its in-house storage capacities to manage the orders for its dealer network of commercial and passenger vehicles.
In 2009, SSI SCHAEFER installed an automated two-storey small-parts shelving system in a new Melbourne DC to manage the Southern dealer network in Australia. This incorporates a conveyor system on both floors, narrow and wide aisle racking, and storage areas. An integral part of the fit-out is the R3000 shelving system that has been built as a two-tier mezzanine for the storage of awkward products and medium volume SKU. The system is designed to optimise storage options while minimising the space required to handle these specialist automotive parts.
With the success of this project, Volkswagen Group Australia has this year chosen SSI SCHAEFER to manage further expansion and development of both the Sydney and Melbourne DC. Both these projects are due for completion by the end of the year.

In the first decade of this century, BMW Group Australia had seen its sales increase by 85% with vehicle numbers nearly doubling. To ensure good customer service, BMW built a new 12,600m2 PDC in Moorebank, Sydney, while retaining its Melbourne Parts Distribution Centre.
SSI SCHAEFER installed selective pallet racking and R3000 modular shelving, configured as a three-tier mezzanine system with integrated lighting, goods hoist and sprinkler systems.
This twin-warehouse strategy with the introduction of the Sydney PDC is a demonstration of the commitment that BMW Group Australia has to its business partners, the dealer network and to vehicle owners. It means that BMW dealers across the country now receive optimum speed of delivery and customer service.
With the success of this project, BMW Australia has this year chosen SSI SCHAEFER to manage further expansion and development of the Sydney PDC. This project is due for completion by the middle of this year.

The new-look MHD is here! Innovation + flexibility

Photo: Rao Harohalli, engineering manager, Regional Product Support and Engineering; Michael Croxford, product development manager, Regional Product Support & Engineering; Rodrigo Molina-Bachmann, IC product support specialist (L-R).

Crown Equipment is integrating the needs of customers in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia into its current and future products through the work of its dedicated Asia-Pacific design and engineering team.
The company’s Product Engineering Development and Support Division, located at Crown’s regional head office in Smithfield, New South Wales, Australia, adds value for customers by providing modified lift trucks to suit specific needs.
It also acts as a platform for ongoing change to Crown’s product line by giving recommendations to lead designers, helping make equipment that better meets the needs of customers in the region.
Additionally, the division has provided fully developed designs and has tested information for a number of products currently in production.
Crown Equipment vice president for the Pacific Rim Paul Jackson said Crown’s in-house engineering capabilities are an important part of delivering on the company’s promise of placing the customer at the centre of its business activities.
“Our position at Crown has always been about delivering full material handling solutions,” Mr Jackson said.
“This was born out of a commitment to manufacturing in Australia for the better part of the last 50 years.
“Whilst our product line-up is vast and well known for its durability, we’re always interested in finding ways to make things work better for our customers.”
Hands-on experience
The capabilities of the Asia-Pacific engineering division can be seen in a number of the company’s products and ongoing innovations, which are completing specialised tasks on warehouse floors around the region.
Product engineering development and support manager Michael Croxford said Crown Asia-Pacific gained considerable insight into the fundamentals of forklift production through its experience in manufacturing in Australia in the early 1970s.
“The knowledge we gained from local manufacturing carries through today in our ability to innovate, better serving our customers by making our products more specialised and able to fit with their requirements,” Mr Croxford said.
“We work with our highly experienced sales staff to help find the best solutions to customer needs, and work closely with them to make sure the solutions we create meet their needs while fulfilling regulatory requirements.
“Feedback we receive from customers in the region often results in feature changes to existing Crown designs.”
The Asia-Pacific engineering team has also contributed to the current Crown line-up with designs such as the well-regarded SHR Series heavy-duty walkie reach truck. It has also added to the design of the newly released MPC 3000 Series reach truck through field research and testing.
“The Asia-Pacific engineering team has contributed significantly to Crown’s development of semi-automated material handling products, which include geo-fencing and radio-frequency identification technologies,” Mr Croxford said.
MPC 3000 Series
The Australian-developed MPC 3000 Series lift truck is the direct result of customer engagement and feedback playing a role in Crown equipment design.

Adapted from the Crown GPC 3000 Series order picker developed by Crown’s  European design team, the MPC 3000 Series’ proven effectiveness and popularity with Australia customers has led to a global roll-out.
The MPC 3000 Series’ development was spurred by enquiries for a more effective solution in environments where both stock-pickers and counterbalance forklifts are used for ‘rainbow’ or ‘layer picking’ work, a common task for third-party logistics providers servicing high-volume end users with mixed picking orders.
Crown initially developed four prototypes and passed them to high-profile customers in Sydney for evaluation. During more than 50,000 hours of field-testing, the product’s configuration was refined to combine a high-lift, clear-view mast with an outrigger-free counterbalance design.
The combination created a versatile, multi-purpose stock-picker capable of performing tasks previously requiring an additional counterbalance forklift.
The MPC 3000 Series’ height-adjustable layout has been designed specifically for order picking as well as replenishing low-level pick slots from high-level storage. The omission of outriggers allows closer proximity to machinery, sandwich-stacking four-way pallets and manoeuvring in tight or congested areas.
The result is a machine capable of streamlining equipment fleets, taking on multiple roles and maximising shift productivity.
In addition to increasing efficiency for multi-layer stacking, the reach truck offers an ergonomic advantage. Its adjustable height allows operators to set pallets at their ideal picking height. This minimises stretching and bending, resulting in a reduction in fatigue and injury potential while improving operator productivity.
“The MPC 3000 came about as a direct result of our engagement with our customers and trying to better understand the specifics of their businesses,” Michael Croxford said.
“It is capable of performing multiple warehousing tasks such as order-picking and sandwich-stacking multiple pallets while reducing the amount of equipment required.
“In certain applications it is also able to simplify the put-away process at the receiving facility. Combined with its ergonomic refinement, it brings the reliability, durability and operator safety features expected of Crown equipment.”

The MPC 3000 Series is also compatible with Crown’s exclusive QuickPick Remote (QPR) order picking technology, which enables the operator to remotely advance to the next picking location without having to climb on and off the truck. Testing has revealed that QPR is capable of reducing operator fatigue while boosting order-picking productivity by saving the operator up to five seconds per pick.
Galvanised WP Series
Crown’s WP Series electric pallet jack is a staple of numerous businesses in the Asia-Pacific region due to its time-saving capabilities, safety benefits, strength and dependability.
Clean, hygienic equipment is a mandate of many of Crown’s food manufacturing, medical and primary industry customers, so compliance with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and other bacteria-elimination protocols necessitates regular cleaning with harsh substances.
Customers in these industries cited short lifespans for material handling equipment as a major issue. Operating near corrosive chemicals, in high pH environments and within constant wet or damp working situations, resulted in the working life of the WP Series pallet jack being cut short.
In response, Crown’s Australian engineering division began developing a galvanised version of the WP Series pallet jack. Prototypes featured a protective zinc-treated body with stainless steel roller bearings replacing the standard items. Additional parts were modified to prevent water and chemical ingress to help prevent premature corrosion.
Testing the galvanised WP Series in corrosive work environments with a number of customers has shown almost zero corrosion.
“The galvanised units have proven themselves able to stand up to the harsh conditions. Day-in and day-out, the galvanised WP Series trucks are supporting operations and offering the extended lifespan that customers expect from Crown equipment,” Michael Croxford said.
“The demands of our customers across these regulated industries were foremost as we developed the galvanised WP pallet truck.”
The galvanised WP pallet jack has been adopted globally and is now more versatile and longer-lasting thanks to this customer interaction.
Future forward
At Crown Equipment, as well as the lift truck industry in general, there is currently an increased focus on improving the capabilities of lift trucks through trends such as big data, mobile technology, the ‘Internet of Things’ and robotics.

However, according to Paul Jackson, Crown products incorporating these technologies will not be at the expense of ongoing research and development aimed at delivering better product hardware.
“The technology wave is building here at Crown,” he said.
“We pioneered lift truck fleet management technology and we are further developing our InfoLink system alongside other forward thinking solutions that will provide real value for customers.
“However, without reliable, useful products that can cope with the needs of customers in the environments in which they work, the efficiencies gained by cutting- edge technology are meaningless.
“Our Asia-Pacific engineering division will continue with development projects that offer these types of improvements because customers really are at the centre of everything we do.”
For more information visit

Containerchain brings shipping technology to MEGATRANS2018

Logistics company Containerchain has joined the lineup of businesses exhibiting at MEGATRANS2018 in May.
Containerchain specialises in technological solutions to help drive down the cost of moving containers and use their technology innovations to help the industry unlock trapped value and reduce inefficiencies.
MEGATRANS2018 is set to bring together leaders and stakeholders in the wider Australian and international supply chain, including those in the transport, logistics, warehousing solutions, materials handling and infrastructure sectors.


NTP Forklifts to bring materials handling to MEGATRANS2018

National forklift sales, service and rental company NTP Forklifts Australia will showcase its unique range of materials handling equipment at trade event MEGATRANS2018.
The business has supplied a broad range of materials handling products and solutions from around the world to the Australian materials handling market for over three decades, offering equipment from the likes of TCM, Manitou, Jungheinrich and Kalmar.
Find out more about MEGATRANS2018.

What's in the press this week?

Now is the time to start applying Industry 4.0 concepts to the pressures and constraints of operations. For the last several years, Industry 4.0 — a concept that spans a mix of technologies that constitute a fourth industrial revolution — has intrigued many supply chain professionals because of its potential to address the challenges of running operations more efficiently.
Industry 4.0 is about using technology to make supply chain operations more responsive and efficient. The first big shifts in manufacturing were around once revolutionary approaches, like assembly lines and the first wave of computerisation. Now Industry 4.0 posits that by having digital, near real-time knowledge over resources, constraints and workflows, and by applying data-driven insights to systems on the floor, you can run operations much more efficiently whilst adapting to consumer demand. Industry 4.0 spans multiple technologies, but at a high level, it means that via digitalisation we can respond to customers in an accurate, cost-efficient way.
While these ideas are compelling, the next step is to figure out how to apply them to environments such as factories, supply chains, distribution centres (DC), and the ‘intralogistics’ processes within the four walls that are so vital to order fulfillment. In short, how do we take Industry 4.0 building blocks such as robotics, Big Data, sensors, and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, and turn them into smarter, data-driven operations?
Flexible, smart response
In Swisslog’s approach to Industry 4.0, software plays a key role in achieving data-driven operations that can instantly adapt to changing customer requirements, while taking out costs and being far more flexible than previous generations of automation, explains Francis Meier, managing director for Swisslog ANZ.
“The need to respond very quickly to order fulfillment requirements and rapidly changing consumer demand is driving up labour costs at many facilities, which increases the need to automate,” said Mr Meier. “However, the challenge is that automation needs to be flexible to accommodate today’s pattern of smaller, more frequent orders and sudden shifts in demand. This means that automation needs to be data-driven, and in synch with all resources and existing systems.”
The resources in warehouses and plants include human labour. The idea of a completely automated facility that doesn’t need workers — a so-called ‘lights out” approach in which everything is automated — has been around for decades, but has proven elusive, in part because past generations of robotics weren’t very flexible. However, now companies can deploy a new generation of robotics that are smart, meaning they know the status of other systems, and can work safely alongside humans.
While human-like robots that can think and talk tend to capture our collective vision of ‘advanced’ robotics, in industry the real advance is the availability of collaborative and mobile robots. They might not look like a Star Wars’ ‘droid’, but they can sense and learn from their environments, make decisions, and be either mobile or easy to configure in a modular fashion.
This new breed if intralogistics robots make use of vision-based navigation, sensors, and machine learning to allow them to do things like work safely alongside humans and move through warehouses in efficient, safe patterns. They are also synchronised via software with demand requirements coming down from enterprise-level systems, and with other automated systems within the four walls.
Swisslog’s solution set exemplifies this new breed of robotics that can collaborate with humans and synchronises with both enterprise- and control-level processes. The warehouse software layer is important, because it coordinates real time automation processes with enterprise management systems, including traditional warehouse management system (WMS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that companies typically used to manage orders and other transactions.

For example, Swisslog’s advanced warehouse software, called SynQ, spans automation control, material flow control and warehouse management functions to handle the coordination role. Additionally, robotics from Swisslog’s parent company KUKA, as part of its AutoPiQ solution, are smaller, collaborative robotics or ‘co-bots’ that can work safely alongside humans. To accomplish this, co-bots use sensors to instantly stop movement if something enters its path. The result is that companies can leverage picking robots alongside workers for intralogistics processes, using warehouse software such as SynQ to intelligently coordinate the automation with available resources and incoming order details.

The robots of the past, while perhaps good at handling the same part or executing the same assembly process repeatedly, aren’t suited to today’s requirements that typically involve a complex, high velocity order mix, explained Mr Meier. “To achieve the speed, accuracy and throughput needed today, more facilities need to automate, but the automation they put in must be flexible and smart in the way it uses software to coordinate with the demand side, and other systems, within the four walls,” said Meier.
Other types of automation, such as goods-to-person robots (carts that tow goods to an ergonomic, light-assisted picking stations) or modular robotic systems that build mixed pallets, are part of the shift to flexible automation made possible via Industry 4.0 technologies, according to Sean Ryan, head of sales Swisslog ANZ.
“There is more than one type of robot that exemplifies how Industry 4.0 can improve intralogistics,” said Mr Ryan. “What these robotics have in common is that they are smart in terms of being able to handle different goods and tasks, and they are synchronised via software with the demand stream and with other automation. They are also more modular and easier to scale to an operation’s needs than solutions of the past. As a result, you can gain new capabilities like collaborative robotic picking, or automated building of mixed pallets, at a price/performance level that is much more attractive than what could be achieved in the past.”
Modularity achieves goals
Building mixed pallets quickly and accurately is a common challenge in DCs. It can be done with human labour and lift equipment, but that grows costs for higher volume operations. Robotic arms can build mixed/layered pallets, but in the past, this tended to carry a high price tag, especially if paired with fixed conveyor system and/or large shuttle systems to buffer and move goods to the palletising arm.
Today, newer, more modular approaches are possible. Under Swisslog’s ACPaQ, robotic systems for de-palletising and palletising can be paired with CycloneCarrier shuttle technology to enable a fully automated process controlled by the SynQ software. The shuttle system is modular, meaning it is available in different dimensions and can be expanded to add capacity.
The core of the system is a palletising robot from KUKA called RowPaQ that has a unique 4-finger gripper that gives it the versatility to gently handle a wide range of products.  A RowPaQ cell is capable of setting down up to 1,000 cartons per hour in the exact location predefined by the palletising software. To scale up, additional RowPaQ cells can be added.
Robot-based palletising builds on an intelligently organized process. Before cartons can be palletised in sequence, they are first separated, loaded into trays and stored temporarily in the shuttle system. Even before a WMS issues the palletising order, Swisslog’s software autonomously performs a complex calculation process based on product parameters to determine the best way to load the pallet. Based on this intelligence, the cartons are transported in the exact sequence from storage to the palletising cell. After palletising is complete, it is shrink-wrapped and transported via conveyor to the right shipping station.
According to Mr Meier, this mixed palletising cell is another example of how flexible automation can improve intralogistics, while having a system that can be expanded upon as requirements grow. “ACPaQ significantly outperforms manual palletising processes not only in terms of packing density and dimensional stability, but also in terms of cost effectiveness and ergonomics,” Mr Meier said. “Importantly, unlike previous generations of automation, the robotic technology itself and software that coordinates the process makes for a versatile, scalable solution that can handle diverse products.”
A step change for intralogistics
Industry analysts predict the new robotics will catch on. IDC Manufacturing Insights forecasts that by 2018, 30% of all new robotic deployments will be collaborative robots and 45% of the top 200 global ecommerce and omnichannel commerce companies will deploy robotics in their order fulfillment, warehousing, or delivery operations.

Other technology elements that fit with the Industry 4.0 concept are Big Data and digital representation of physical processes, also known as the concept of a ‘digital shadow’ of an operation. The benefit of this latter technology is that by digitalising the resources, constraints and workflows in a warehouse, assembly line or a supply chain, a company can more easily adjust its processes to reduce costs and meet demand.
“Analysis of Big Data and access to an accurate digital representation of your operations turn Big Data into Smart Data,” summed up Mr Meier. “Automation needs to be scalable and versatile, but ultimately, you need intelligent software at the warehouse level that lets you synchronise resources with demand, to get the right goods to market on time, and reduce costs to stay competitive.”
The key with Industry 4.0 and related technologies such as Big Data is to examine how they can support intelligent decisions for specific operational goals, according to Dr Kerstin Höfle, IP and strategy manager for Swisslog Warehouse & Distribution Solutions (WDS).
“We already have huge amounts of data from operations,” Mr Höfle said. “The idea isn’t necessarily to get more data, but rather to connect to and integrate the data we already have, analyse it, and use it to make better decisions. In the end, the idea is to make Big Data smart.” Common areas to improve via analysis include throughput of orders, optimisation of labour and material flow, inventory replenishment levels, as well as predictive maintenance.
“The future for intralogistics isn’t from a single technology like robotics, or sensors, or even Big Data, but rather how these elements can be tied together with software to drive operational improvements like fulfilling orders with lower labour costs,” Mr Meier concluded.
“In this continuously changing world, we believe Industry 4.0 can bring revolutionary improvements to intralogistics,” he said. “Flexible robotics and data-driven solutions are the direction we see, with the end goals being cost-competitiveness for operations and a higher level of responsiveness and product availability for end customers.”
For more information call (02) 9869 5900 or email

Linde Material Handling realigns product offering

Linde Material Handling Australia has introduced a new approach to categorising and presenting its solutions, with a focus on reaching customers for whom materials handling does not represent a core element of their business.
Nino Pala, Managing Director, Linde Material Handling Australia, noted that a growing number of Linde customers do not fit within the warehousing, logistics or manufacturing space, rather they use materials handling equipment to support other business functions.
As such, the company has moved to simplify its categorisation of products.
“We’ve categorised products to make choices simpler than ever and to help us provide solutions that meet both operational and commercial requirements,” said Pala. “One look at our range will illustrate the scope and differences that [Linde equipment range] Kion is able to offer from a material-handling perspective.
“That’s why we’re now identifying and introducing models for businesses which typically have lower intensity use of their material handling equipment, as a support to their operations. As an example, think of homewares retailers, whose premises combine a showroom and an attached warehouse – a typically lower intensity forklift environment.”
To complement this new approach Linde reviewed its entire range and identified ‘Value’, ‘Performance’ and ‘Performance Plus’ characteristics and abilities.
The Value range encompasses models identified as suitable for lower-demand applications, Performance models are designed for medium-demand applications and Performance Plus models suit businesses with high-demand applications.
Linde_LMH eNews_Power to Choose_226x175
“While other equipment suppliers might correctly identify a customer’s business as being a low-, medium- or high-intensity environment, our specialist consultants are experienced in digging much deeper when it comes to equipment requirements,” said Pala.
“Without doing so it is all too easy to fall into the ‘one-type-fits-all’ mistake, supplying equipment not really suited to individual roles within a fleet. Frankly that doesn’t serve the customer or supplier well in the long run.
“The starting point of our approach is to recognise that there may be a mixture of low, medium and high demand forklift capability requirements within any given fleet or workplace. Our specialists can then specify precisely the appropriate model for every role. And that applies to small businesses as well as large enterprises.”
Pala added that the new approach is possible thanks to the breadth of Linde Australia’s product range.
“Let’s face it, customers in Australia have a wide choice of material handling equipment providers,” he said. “However, from my perspective, Linde stands alone with its full suite of material-handling solutions for all customers, large and small.
“Understanding the difference between price and value is important in any decision that we make, but more so when it comes to material-handling equipment. I believe Linde also gives customers the opportunity to choose a supplier that is a leader in productivity, safety and efficiency, a company committed to providing the best service within the industry.”

Kalmar acquires Australian port service business

Materials handling equipment manufacturer Kalmar, part of Cargotec, has signed an agreement to acquire the port services business of Inver Engineering in Australia.
The investment reportedly supports Kalmar’s strategic aim to grow in services while strengthening and broadening the company’s existing service capabilities throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
The acquisition closed on 29 December, 2017.
Inver Engineering, a privately owned company established in Melbourne in 1981, services ports, and the rail, petrochemical, oil and gas and manufacturing industries, while Inver Port Services, part of Inver Engineering, provides repairs, maintenance and crane refurbishment projects for terminal operators across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
“We are excited to welcome the Inver Port Services team to Kalmar Australia,” said Peter McLean, Senior Vice President, Kalmar Asia-Pacific. “The region is a strategically important market for Kalmar and this acquisition further strengthens our capabilities to serve our customers in ports and terminals across the region.”

TMHA equips new NewCold Melbourne facilities

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) has supplied equipment to new cold storage market entrant, NewCold.
NewCold Melbourne opened its two warehouses in August and September, with 45 leased Toyota and BT forklifts.
Netherlands-based NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics reportedly decided to approach TMHA for its first Australian operations due to its relations with Toyota in Europe.
The 34-metre-high warehouses have a combined 40,800m2 of floor area, storage for over 200,000 pallets, 39 loading docks and operate around the clock.
One is a cold store at minus 23oC, the other a chilled store with two, eight and 11oC environments.
“This makes Toyota our material handling partner of choice, while the comprehensive service offering is unique and cost effective as well,” said Ray Perry, Director – Oceania, NewCold.
“We appreciate that Toyota does not only supply the forklift [equipment] but will also service the equipment as and when we need it.
“Being a logistics and warehouse service provider, Toyota shares common customer values with NewCold. We trust that we will benefit from TMHA’s wealth of knowledge in the industry in Australia to increase our productivity, while staying ahead of our competition.”
Jason Fennell, Corporate Account Manager at TMHA, said local discussions with NewCold began in October 2016 and a decision was made in May 2017.
“We received a request to assist NewCold from our corporate division and worked from there,” he said.
“NewCold uses a variety of suppliers and products in Europe. However, the core business is to be able to pick orders, replenish stock, load and unload required deliveries, and store required long-life stocks on a 24/7 basis.
“This is the company’s first development in Australia, so we are committed to working with them to develop the relationship and ensure we cover all the material handling requirements, as well as making this process easy for the customer.”
The initial equipment roster for NewCold’s Melbourne facilities includes 21 BT electric pallet jacks, 10 Toyota 8-Series FBE18 three-wheel electric forklifts, seven BT RRE140H reach trucks, four Toyota 32-8FG30 internal combustion forklifts, a pair of 32-8FG18 Toyota forklifts, a BT RRE250H reach truck and four battery chargers.

Container expert SCF signs on for MEGATRANS2018

SCF, one of Australia’s largest container providers, will exhibit at multi-modal supply chain event MEGATRANS2018, which takes over the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre 10-12 May 2018.

SCF specialises in new and used container hire, sales and design.

The company supplies the Australian transport, resources, construction, defence and chemical storage industries, and manages more than 13,000 containers throughout Australia as well as a depot network spanning Australia’s major cities including Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Karratha, Perth and Sydney.

SCF’s product range spans tanks, containers for site storage, accommodation and intermodal equipment, including refrigeration, side doors, pallet wide and high cube containers.

SCF joins the diverse list of exhibitors signed up for the show who cover everything from transport, logistics, warehousing solutions, materials handling, infrastructure and more.

Toyota launches new electric forklifts and reach trucks

Toyota Material Handling has launched two new battery electric warehouse models, the 8FB four-wheel counter-balance forklift and 8FBR reach truck ranges.
The new 8-Series FB and 8-Series FBR forklift ranges are said to offer improved efficiency, productivity, operability and safety compared with the superseded 7-Series models.
There are five 8FB forklifts from 1.5 to 3.0 tonne payload and nine 8FBR models from one to 2.5-tonne payload.
Key features include longer operating times and battery life, reduced electricity consumption to save charging costs, further updates to the System of Active Stability (SAS) safety technology and the availability of Toyota’s I-Site fleet-management tool as a factory fitted option.
Toyota Material Handling’s product manager, Toyota product, Glen Ryan said the forklift upgrades delivered benefits for the customer and operator, including improved ease of operation, ergonomics, features and safety.
“The new forklift range has a more sophisticated design and features, while the new reach trucks have ten per cent better operating time and use less electricity thanks to new AC drive motors and efficient new hydraulic system,” he said.
“All the new models have Auto Turn-speed Control, for greater safety when turning with a load and Anti-rollback control.
“Auto Turn-speed Control automatically controls the optimum turning speed according to the lift height, load weight, and turning radius. Therefore if necessary it will slow the forklift or reach truck to the appropriate rate of turning.
“The 8FBN now features Slope-Sensing Auto Power Mode which will increase the power to climb a ramp; it improves driving performance and productivity.”

Toyota’s new 8FBR battery electric reach truck.

Mr Ryan said the 8FBR range has the latest iteration of Toyota’s System of Active Stability, known as SAS-R, for stable turning and load-handling operations.
“It locks the suspension at lift heights over three metres, for optimum longitudinal and lateral stability,” he said.
“Additional key safety features include the Anti-rollback feature, Front-assist Brake System on the reach trucks for stable braking even if the drive wheels lock up and traction control for added safety on slippery surfaces.
“These models have option of a factory fitted blue LED light, which shines on the floor behind the machine when it’s reversing, to warn pedestrians there is a forklift present.
“They also have three-mode regenerative braking, for smooth deceleration, stopping and switchback, and to boost battery recovery. Plus a deluxe multi-function display, with weight indicator.”
In addition, Toyota has introduced added features to optimise battery life, such as Auto Power-Off, Power-keep and Power-select functions.

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