High rate order handling through compact sorting

Materials handling specialist ICA has integrated the world renowned FKI Logistex sorting systems as part of its technology lines in the Australasia region.

Of particular note is the Compact Cross-belt Sorter, which is easily accommodated in existing buildings due to its flexible modular design and minimum foot print.

The configuration can be complex or simple due to the capability of travelling in both the vertical and horizontal planes. The cross-belt of the sorter is available in A4 and A3 sizes.

This Compact Sorter is ideal for companies that produce digital media or similar, such as CDs and DVDs, for distribution of books, magazines, shoes, spare parts, postal articles and the like

Used by successful mail-order organisations including DOCdata Benelux, TMI, and Britannia Music, this technology has completely transformed order-handling.

What has traditionally been a process requiring days has now been reduced to hours, thereby significantly improving customer satisfaction and accuracy of sort thereby reducing product returns.

Some companies are even using this Compact Sorter for additional revenue as a third-party distribution business for other net-based traders and the like.

The DOCdata Benelux layout, for example, is a simple “U” shaped design with a capacity of 20,000 items per hour.

TMI, which distributes to specialised music retailers in Austria and Germany, uses this sorter technology to distribute 30 million units per year comprising from approximately 160,000 different types of articles to 350 different sales points.

When planning its new logistics centre, TMI decided on a ‘Two-In-One Sorter’. At a length of 336 metres with 10 induction points and 520 discharges, TMI’s system processes 35,000 items per hour.

Britannia Music is a traditional mail-order company distributing CDs and DVDs to its (approximately) 2,000,000 million members of its music club.

Using the Double Tray Sorter, 145 metres long, Britannia is able to process 516,000 units during a five day, three shift run.

The key to these high capacity figures is the reduction in need for manual intervention. A system controller achieves this with automated barcode labelling for scanning and tracking, calculation of items per package, cross-belt activation at the relevant destinations, and photocell activated mechanisms.

To ensure information relevant to each unit is processed with the same speed and efficiency, the controller enables the systemic incorporation of printers at the induction area to generate consignment notes and address labels.

The case examples, of DOCdata, TMI and Britannia, all illustrate the expediency, awesome capacity and the high levels of productivity and customer satisfaction each of these companies gained by implementing this technology.

Kitting cart keeps assembly lines organised

A new Creform materials handling concept assists in transforming multi-part and component assembly tasks into organised and structured processes, helping to streamline operations for better efficiency and lower costs.

Distributed exclusively in Australia by Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd (ICA), the Kitting Cart is an optimum sized structure that performs as a push cart to safely transport parts and uses the adaptive Creform system of plastic coated steel pipe, joints and accessories.

It can also serve as a portable crib to keep tools within handy reach, as a temporary storage rack keeping kitted parts in correct orientation, and as a quick visual aid to determine part inventories, sequencing and importantly, when the cart is empty, to make sure all components were assembled.

The Kitting Cart is ideal for use in the automotive and aerospace industries, or where kitting operations are prevalent. Utilising the cart allows material handling technicians to accurately fill logistical orders, and optimise time by assembly staff to focus on ‘value-added’ processes.

The Kitting Cart has construction features, handling capabilities, sizing and flexibility that makes it a perfect match for the needs of assembly operations in a variety of applications.

The cart has four large-area, height adjustable shelves for transporting the collection of necessary parts to a specific job site, and then temporarily holds the parts until required for assembly.

With the integration of tool ‘holsters’ and compartments, the cart makes easy work of organising the required implements, materials and supplies to complete jobs fast.

It also incorporates a series of hooks for suspending larger, awkward-shaped parts and components, a means to protect high-finished parts from damage.

Shelves each measure 508mm x 1220mm and have a lattice-like pattern that provides ample strength with cart capacities available from 136kg to 450kg.

The ventilated design helps to minimise the weight of the cart itself for easy transport. Shelf height and spacing can be quickly adjusted, and provide for easy removal or reinstallation if projects dictate changes to spacing needs.

To further its maneuverability, the unit incorporates four large diameter swivel casters with two casters that have a locking element to stabilize the cart at work locations.

In addition to the hooks for hanging parts and tool holsters, other available accessories include rubber bumper rings to protect from collisions, pegboard sections, clip-on bins for small parts and hardware items, a clipboard for instructions, notes, etc., and labeling protectors to help organize and identify components.

Because of the modularity of the Creform system, only the items required for specific situations need be included, helping to streamline weight and costs.

As with all Creform System-built structures, the ease of integrating design modifications and the simplistic construction methods allows the ‘standard’ specifications of the Kitting Cart to be customised.

Carts are available in an assortment of pipe colors that aids in identifying them by department, personnel or for specific uses.

Creform offers the cart as a kit, with all components pre-fabricated, sized and packaged to individual customer specifications, and knocked down for economical shipping.

Cart kits use Creform metal joints with one-tool clamping to the pipe sections to make assembly steps simple and fast.

New trade show addresses safety

The lifting, loading and shifting of materials is the number one cause of injuries to workers in New South Wales. Now, a new trade show dedicated to making materials handling safe and efficient will provide thousands of solutions.

Sydney Materials Handling, co-located with The Safety Show Sydney, will run from October 24 to 26 at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.

Around 50 exhibitors will showcase materials and manual handling products and services, encompassing everything from automated storage and retrieval systems, through to robotics and voice recognition systems.

Among the high profile brands will be Caterpillar, Crown Equipment, Hako Australia, Kockums Bulk Systems, Linde Materials Handling, Red Australia, Safetech and Toyota Materials Handling.

Organiser, Marie Kinsella of Australian Exhibitions & Conferences, says that although The Safety Show Sydney had always addressed materials handling, a dedicated event was warranted.

“Materials handling injures around 17,000 workers in NSW each year, costing employers more than $370 million,” she says.

“On the other side of the coin, many of the materials handling technologies can also reap huge productivity savings, so every time you improve materials handling, there’s this double whammy of human and financial benefits.“

“Researchers told us that visitors to The Safety Show knew that only too well and were demanding a greater focus on new materials handling innovations.”

One of those already registered to attend Sydney Materials Handling in October is Alan Dean, state manager, OneSteel Steel and Tube.

“The handling of steel presents a lot of unique safety issues. Its weight, size, length, the bundling criteria and then the hazards associated with cutting it all make handling difficult,” Dean says.

“OneSteel is continually working to reduce risk by removing manual handling from the process and, when manual handling can’t be avoided, we equip our people well with PPE, like Kevlar gloves and sleeve inserts. I’ll be looking for ideas at Sydney Materials Handling that improve both safety and efficiency.”

The technology on show will be complemented by advice from Principal Sponsor, WorkCover NSW, which will deliver 18 workshops during Sydney Materials Handling.

The regulator will offer small business tools to measure safety levels, explain how business can access its programs and invite organisations to join its mentoring programs.

WorkCover’s workshops were extremely popular at The Safety Show Sydney in 2006 and another visitor early to register, Charlie Crist, SME surveyor for Vero Insurance, said WorkCover’s advice and the expertise of exhibitors was a key attraction.

“When we go out to see clients, we take a risk management approach,” Crist says.

“We point out where they aren’t complying with safety standards and laws and then work with them to find a solution. Going to Sydney Materials Handling and The Safety Show will bring me up to date with the legislative requirements and the latest tools we can use to eliminate or reduce risks.”

DHL has approximately 270,000 square metres of warehouse space located throughout Australia, and significant volumes of materials are handled in these facilities.

“Because the well-being of our staff is paramount, spending a few hours at Sydney Materials Handling to see the latest materials handling technology is important for our business,” says DHL Exel Supply Chain Implementation Support Manager Facilities Gary Murphy.

According to Safety Coordinator Chris Rowney, the Alkathene Plant owned by Qenos produces high quality polyethylene and our plant is quite old.

“The first of four reactors was commissioned in 1957, so there is a lot of heavy equipment and awkward spaces to get around,” he says.

“Our management sees the advantages of investing in safety — we have a world-class safety record — and I’ll be interested in anything at Sydney Materials Handling that can improve safety.”

“We are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to efficiently and safely handle our product,” concurs Sony Australia Warehouse Manager Michael Hobbert. “The Sydney Materials Handling exhibition will give us a good overview of what is currently available in the industry.”

The Safety Show Sydney and Sydney Materials Handling will run from October 24 to 26 at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.

For more information, phone Australian Exhibitions & Conferences on 03 9654 7773, email safety@aec.net.au or visit www.sydmaterialshandling.com.au

Automated stacker/retrieval system to replace forklifts?

ICA’s radio frequency (RF) controlled Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) is a completely customisable technology that serves order picking, storing, packaging or any other materials handling function for businesses of all types including food, packaging, retail, manufacturing, wholesaling, third party logistics and shipping/transport.

It uses a customised system of fast, dedicated aisle stacker cranes that use proven simple, safe cable-free remote control technology to exact rapid stock movement.

Each crane can be designed according to the physical parameters of an existing or new warehouse, so the utmost return is derived from the implementation.

ASRS crane systems are designed to maximise the use of building heights while occupying a minimum of floor area. In general, items are normally stored single or double deep into racking.

ASRS solutions can apply to the storage of palletised products, totes (container or tray), skids, boxes, uniform units, odd units, or even wine barrels – virtually any product that exists in a warehouse or storage facility

With the inclusion of X and Y axis laser positioning and control systems combined with Radio Frequency (RF) communications, the traditional inefficiency’s and operational problems have been eliminated while increasing the performance.

The inclusion of RF technology is a major development as it removes one of the biggest potential problems associated with crane technology, the looping control cable between the long travel assembly and the hoist carriage, while improving safety.

Each crane has its own communications channel and can be operated independently of others to perform specific tasks.

The RF technology extends to being able to operate the crane from a portable hand held RF HMI (Human Machine Interface) tablet for maintenance, testing and recovery procedures.

Control can be from outside the crane operating aisle therefore greatly improving safety by eliminating the requirement of operators to enter the crane ASRS operating cell. The HMI tablet has a graphical display of crane location, alarms and information necessary to efficiently and quickly operate the crane in manual.

ICA has a standard range of ASRS cranes including single and double mast for both mini-pick and traditional high—rise applications up to 30 metres high. A wide range of standard attachments are available to handle totes, trays, skids, boxes and pallets.

Customised attachments can be developed to suit specific customer needs. Single or multiple load carrying hoisting carriages are available to increase the throughput where necessary

Express industry sorter

Australian materials handling specialist ICA in conjunction with FKI Logistex, is supplying two S3000CB Cross Belt Sorters with accompanying sub-systems for the express freight industry.

The S3000CB Cross Belt Sorter is most suited for this application with its capability to sort an extremely wide mix of items including fragile, small, large, non rigid and all types packaging materials.

The S3000CB Cross Belt Sorter comprises separate carts coupled together in a continuous loop, each with one or a number of cross-belt units, and can be configured to suit existing or new facilities due to its flexibility.

The total system occupies a minimum of floor space and can incline and decline as required to suit every situation. Future upgrades can be carried out with a minimum of down time.

The S3000CB Cross Belt Sorter can be optioned with various sizes of cross belt units which increase the range of items to be sorted and the throughput capacity.

Typical applications where the sorter is used are freight processing centres, warehouse and distribution, textile industry, mail order companies, book and newspaper industries, periodical distribution companies, shoe distribution companies, retail distribution companies, CD music industry and many others.

Accurate control of the cross belt acceptance speed, discharge speed, acceleration and deceleration means it is particularly suited for sorting unstable and fragile items. This accuracy of discharging items allows discharge outlets to be located at close pitch thereby decreasing floor area of the system.

Total sorter throughput capacity is dependent upon cross belt size, speed of sorter carts, number and configuration of inductions but can be up to 15,000 items per hour or more if required.

The design has a minimum of contact parts and therefore requires minimum maintenance. A defective part can be automatically disabled by the control system and replaced during a scheduled stop.

Replacement of most items can be carried out without the aid of any special tools or skills. As a result of modular construction only a minimum inventory of spare parts is required.

The extremely low operating noise level of 65dB(A) means the S3000CB sorter can be installed in all processing areas and working environments.

The basic elements of the control system consist of a personal computer and the applicable machine control software.

This control system communicates with locally positioned input/output blocks via a standard industrial network, and controls the sorter tables, compilation of statistics and surveillance reports, and data exchange with the host computer and other connected control systems including modems.

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