Amazon looks set to spur logistics space race

With its domination of the retail and logistics worlds well in motion, it seems that Amazon’s ambitions may be getting a little more out of this world.
A seven-page white paper prepared by space company Blue Origin – owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – for the Nationals Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) outlines its interest in establishing a cargo storage facility on the moon by the mid-2020s.
The Washington Post– owned by Jeff Bezos, interestingly – first revealed details of the document, reporting that it was handed to NASA leadership, urging them to support an Amazon-style shipping service for the moon to deliver goods such as gear for experiments and cargo, eventually enabling human settlement.
Blue Origin’s paper asked NASA to develop a program to provide “incentives to the private sector to demonstrate a commercial lunar cargo delivery service.”
The company has confirmed that the white paper obtained by The Post, dated 4 January, is indeed authentic.
When questioned by The Post, Bezos said, “It is time for America to return to the Moon – this time to stay.
“A permanently inhabited lunar settlement is a difficult and worthy objective. I sense a lot of people are excited about this.”
At the recent Aviation Week awards ceremony, Bezos noted that the moon could be key in helping humans reach further into space. “I think that if you go to the moon first, and make the moon your home, then you can get to Mars more easily,” he said.
Blue Origin plans to land its lunar vehicle –Blue Moon ­– on the moon’s south pole, Shackleton Crater due to its constant sunlight to power the vessel, and a water source. Blue Moon will be capable of carrying up to 10,000lbs of material, key to the company’s plan to transition to cargo delivery and storage. “Blue Moon is all about cost-effective delivery of mass to the surface of the Moon,” said Bezos. “Any credible first lunar settlement will require that capability.”

Butler robot contract awarded for large home furnishing chain in Japan

Technology company GreyOrange and logistics technology provider GROUND Inc have been awarded the contract to supply robotics solutions to the Nitori Holdings Group, Japan’s largest furniture and home furnishing chain with over 400 stores. The robotics system will be deployed at Home Logistics which is a logistics subsidiary of Nitori Holdings, operating 34 distribution bases and an efficient logistics network for product delivery to stores and e-commerce customers across the country.
Manabu Matsuura, Corporate Officer of Nitori Holdings and CEO of Home Logistics said, “We were impressed to find that the GreyOrange Butler is an entirely new robotics concept for warehouse automation unlike automated storage and retrieval systems. Also, Butler satisfies our corporate philosophy that we always pursue ideal workplaces for everyone. For example, we have been an early adopter of technology solutions and were the first user in Japan to leverage robotic storage systems in our warehouses last year.”

Manabu Matsuura, Corporate Officer of Nitori Holdings and CEO of Home Logistics, and Nalin Advani, CEO - APAC, GreyOrange.
Manabu Matsuura, Corporate Officer of Nitori Holdings and CEO of Home Logistics, and Nalin Advani, CEO – APAC, GreyOrange.

Hiratomo Miyata, CEO of GROUND Inc., exclusive provider of GreyOrange Butler in Japan, said: “We are really happy to announce that Home Logistics has become the first user of the Butler in Japan. They have evaluated several options and are glad to use the Butler as they believe the Butler goods-to-person technology will be a driving force in their strategy to increase productivity in their warehouse operations through robotics.”
The GreyOrange Butler system will be installed at the Home Logistics Osaka distribution centre, to handle automated inventory storage and picking. The software adapts in real-time to changing inventory profiles and order fulfilment patterns, for high productivity and accuracy.
Nalin Advani, CEO – APAC, GreyOrange said, “Japan has one of the world’s most mature distribution infrastructure and it is the fourth largest e-commerce market. Over 75 per cent of consumers regularly shop online and e-commerce is forecasted to grow to US$200 billion ($260 billion) by 2020. We are honoured to work with Nitori Group, including Home Logistics, to deploy our Butlers. The Nitori Group is far-sighted in anticipating the challenges of warehouse operations and addressing it with robotics. We are also excited to be selected for the Japan market where specifications for technology are among the most demanding in the world.”

Nominations now open for Mercury Awards 2017

The Mercury Awards are back in 2017 with a new list of categories acknowledging excellence in supply chain management.
The long-standing event recognises the achievements of the small and large businesses that demonstrate ‘best practice’, excellence and innovation in Australia’s logistics, supply chain and materials handling industry.
Awards categories for the Mercury Awards 2017:

  • Materials Handling Solution Award
  • Supply Chain Innovation Award
  • Excellence in Safety Award
  • Best Technology Application Award
  • Sustainability Initiative Award
  • Transport Solution of the Year Award: Road
  • Transport Solution of the Year Award: Rail, Sea and Air
  • Outstanding Third Party Logistics Provider Award
  • Outstanding Graduate Program Award
  • Best Warehouse and/or Storage Solution Award

To nominate an exceptional company, head to the Mercury Awards website.
Winners will be decided by an independent panel of industry experts and announced at the Mercury Awards Gala Dinner to be held at 6.30pm in the Jim Stynes Room at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday 27 September.
Tickets for the event can be purchased online – Early Bird tickets cost $165 + GST, and you can get a table of 10 for $1,500 + GST.
For a night of great entertainment and delicious food in a fantastic venue buy your tickets now, and for a chance of being honoured on the night get your nominations in.
The 2017 Mercury Awards are sponsored by European manufacturer SEW-Eurodrive. SEW are passionate about celebrating industry excellence and also provide their support manufacturing excellence at the Endeavour Awards and mining progress at the Prospect Awards.

New 1,500sqm airside cargo facility at Adelaide Airport

Air services provider dnata has invested in a new 1,500sqm airside cargo facility at Adelaide Airport.
The facility was developed from an existing cold store facility and has the capacity to handle up to 80 tonnes of cargo per day, providing storage for both import and export products, including refrigerated and ambient temperature product options, and is designed to meet increasing demand for SA exports and imports.
Previously, dnata supported the South Australian cargo market from a 400sqm off-airport facility, that included interstate trucking services.
“Our customers have been calling for an airside facility and we are pleased to be able to meet this need. It has been a significant investment for us and we are committed to growing our business in Adelaide by opening this tailor-made, expansive airside facility,” said Daniela Marsilli, CEO, dnata Australia.dnata Opening Adelaide-1_1
The insulation in the walls of the storage facility is nearly 25cm in width, ensuring the temperature within the general area of the facility remains between 15–25 degrees Celsius, while the freezer rooms are able to hold cargo at as low as minus 18 degrees.
The facility meets Customs, Quarantine and Office of Transport Security regulations, and will see dnata located the closest to the passenger terminal and new freighter apron at Adelaide Airport, enabling quick movement of cargo.
This new facility will be dnata’s fourth largest facility in Australia and will help to increase the company’s national footprint which currently includes cargo facilities in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Darwin.

McCain to move into state-of-the-art robotic cold storage facility in Melbourne

McCain Foods Australia today announced a contract agreement with cold storage provider NewCold.
NewCold’s will manage the storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products at the storage provider’s new warehouse in Truganina, Melbourne, as part of a 10-year agreement commencing in July 2017.
Construction has significantly advanced on the automated facility, which will consist of an integrated system combining automated, state-of-the-art pallet handling systems, using in-house warehouse and control software developed by parent Dutch cold storage innovator, NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics.
Taso Kourou, Supply Chain Director at McCain Foods ANZ stated that the facility upgrade will drastically improve logistics capabilities, meeting the needs of local and international customers, demanding improved efficiency from production to distribution of frozen products. “The storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products in the new automated facility will give us a more stable temperature regime and highly accurate stock control,” he said.
Louis Wolthers, Regional President for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India & China at McCain Food said that the McCain team is keen to see the outcomes of the new agreement take effect. “From a sustainability perspective, through the use of the warehouses’ highly controlled in-and-outflows combined with efficient cooling equipment, energy usage per pallet stored is up to 50 per cent lower compared to a conventional storage option,” he said.
The warehouse’s unmanned stacker cranes, conveyors and automated truck unloading systems will handle receipt, storage and retrieval of palletised products, all together dealing with more than 11,000 pallet movements per day.

Efficient storage in the smallest possible space

The optimum storage of materials is very important in the metal construction and trading industries and in processing centres. 

A storage system should use as little valuable space as possible, provide all products quickly, efficiently and without errors, be simple and intuitive to operate, and connect seamlessly to other logistics or machining processes.

With the UNITOWER tower storage system, KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG, a leading manufacturer of saws and storage systems for sheet metal and bar stock, offers a solution which fulfils all these requirements as well as offering many other advantages.

The system is available in three different designs: as UNITOWER for the storage of bar materials, UNITOWER B for sheet metal, flat products and containers, and as a compact universal store UNITOWER C for bars and sheets.

The tower storage systems are designed as modular systems with individual modules. As a result, individual solutions can also be implemented with ease.

UNITOWER is available as a single or double tower, optionally freestanding in a workshop or as a separate storage building outside with ceiling and wall elements.

Any number of input and output stations can be positioned at the front or on the long side of the storage tower and at different levels, depending on the customer’s requirements.

Cassettes, pallets or supporting frames are used as the load carriers. Depending on the design, each storage space can carry loads of up to five tonnes. The towers effortlessly accept bar stock from 3,400 to 14,600 mm in length, thus giving users recourse to different standard lengths as well as workpiece or production-optimised special lengths.

The basic version of the UNITOWER has a usable width between 600 and 1,240 mm. This enables the storage system to be ideally matched to the available space.

The UNITOWER B model for storing sheet metal and flat products enables lengths between 2,000 and 8,000 mm to be stored. The usable width is between 1,000 and 2,000 mm. The loading height and therefore the number of storage spaces can be determined at will, thus also enabling pallets, boxes or containers to be accommodated.

System heights up to 25 m can be easily achieved with the UNITOWER and UNITOWER B designs. With their variable loading height, tower storage systems provide a flexible solution which saves significantly more space and is therefore more economical compared with conventional floor and cantilever arm storage systems.

The KASTO range also includes a cost-effective, standardised compact storage system for different bar and sheet formats in the form of the UNITOWER C. With a maximum height of 7,200 mm and flexible compartment distribution, it is ideal for small businesses, workshops, maintenance shops and as a buffer store between production areas.

Two versions are available: as a storage system for flat goods with a usable width and length of 1,524 x 3,048 mm and loads between one and three tonnes, or as a storage system for bar stock accommodating cassettes with dimensions 840 x 6,500 mm and loads between 0.8 and 2.5 tonnes.

Along with the low space requirement, UNITOWER storage systems are distinguished by their high efficiency.

A storage and retrieval machine (SRM) with spreader beam handles the load carriers. Compared with paternoster systems, for example, this has the advantage that it is not necessary to move the entire stock, but only the relevant cassette.

This ensures rapid access times and – thanks to efficient drives – saves energy. Input and output stations can also be connected to other conveyor equipment or processing machines to optimise the internal material flow.

Depending on the model, the tower storage system is controlled by KASTO’s own semi-automatic or fully automatic EasyControl and BasicControl controllers. These can be operated easily and intuitively by means of a graphical interface.

The user can call up and control various functions such as storage compartment and cassette management, order expediting and system diagnostics using the touch screen. High availability is ensured by KASTO’s sophisticated service concept.

This not only includes round-the-clock telephone advice, a rapid supply of spare parts and competent on-site support, but also remote monitoring via the Internet. This enables KASTO experts to find and rectify faults at an early stage before they lead to costly system failures.

Qimarox takes even heavier pallets to a higher level

With the Prorunner mk10, Qimarox introduces an extremely robust product elevator for pallets of up to 2000 kg. This product lift can transport up to sixty pallets per hour, ten metres upwards.

This standardised, modular product lift can be integrated into any end-of-line packaging system or storage system and can furthermore be used in conjunction with the Highrunner mk7, Qimarox’s unique product palletiser.

The Qimarox Prorunner mk10 is based on the design of the successful Prorunner mk9 pallet lift. The most important difference is that the new Prorunner mk10 features four instead of two columns, allowing it to easily transport pallets weighing up to 2,000 kg.

The Prorunner mk10 can easily bridge any difference in height between 0.40 and 10 metres. Even at the maximum height difference of 10 metres, the lift can still easily transport sixty pallets per hour with ease. It is equipped with a lifting platform of 1,200 x 1,200 mm as standard that can be fitted with a pallet track, so that it can handle not only euro pallets, but also product carriers of different sizes such as block pallets.

Combined with a palletiser

The Prorunner mk10 can be used stand alone or in combination with Qimarox’s unique Highrunner mk7 palletiser. With the Highrunner mk7, the supplied products are pushed together into rows or layers that can be deposited on a pallet in one go by a patented pattern-formation slider.

With the Highrunner, the pattern-formation conveyor is located at a height, while the pallet can move up and down thanks to the Prorunner mk10. The top of the pallet will therefore always remain at the same height as the pattern-formation conveyor, resulting in a shorter cycle time and higher capacity. The introduction of this new pallet lift therefore makes it possible to palletise products up to a weight of 2,000 kg per pallet.

Infeed and outfeed along four sides

Thanks to its four-column construction, pallets can be fed in and out on four different sides. It is also possible to use a single machine to supply multiple infeed or outfeed levels, so that the lift can also be used for vertical sorting. Because the lift is constructed out of standard sections, its height can be increased in 250mm increments. The drive consists of a standard SEW electric motor, which can be attached at floor level or at the level of the intermediate floor.

Thanks to its fully standardised and modular design, the Prorunner mk10 provides a short payback time and low total cost of ownership. The lift is built exclusively from standard components that are easy to replace. The Prorunner mk10 is constructed using steel instead of aluminium columns, which ensures great stability despite the dynamic forces that occur during operation. Lifting in the Prorunner mk10 is done with steel chains, which are tensioned by a counterweight.

Standard model

Like the other Qimarox products, the Prorunner mk10 is marketed by machine builders and system integrators. Qimarox delivers a high quality product based on a standardised concept at a very competitive price. The system integrator or machine builder integrates the product into a total solution, resulting in a win-win situation for the end user and integrator. 

High definition cameras improve safety and quality for processors of frozen fruits and vegetables

With consumers increasingly demanding convenient and fast-to-prepare foods, frozen fruits and vegetables, such as green peas, beans or berries, are a growing market segment in the food industry.

At the same time, food safety regulations are tightening and consumers have come to expect an impeccable product.

A major concern is the potential presence of foreign materials, such as small stones or pieces of glass, wood or plastic in the packaged product.

Optical sorters with InGaAs cameras are highly effective in detecting and removing these objects. Buler pioneered the use of this sensor technology in optical sorting in 2007.

Now, the market leader is introducing InGaAsHD. With double the resolution, these high definition cameras are able to detect foreign materials down to half the size previously possible, resulting in substantially better detection and removal.

InGaAsHD will be available in the SORTEX E product range and will enable processors of frozen fruits and vegetables to meet the highest safety requirements, while ensuring maximum quality of their product.

Frozen fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, green peas, sweet corn or baby carrots, are a fast growing market segment in the food industry.

Not only do they meet the demand for food that is quick and easy to prepare, in or out of season, but they can even be nutritionally superior to retailed fresh produce, as they are harvested at their peak ripeness -when most nutritious -and frozen soon after, preserving their vitamins and antioxidants.

"While increasing amounts of frozen fruits and vegetables are being processed, food safety regulations are tightening in most countries and processors have to guarantee the safety and quality of their products," is how Stephen Jacobs, Global Product Manager at Bühler, sums up the challenge.

Among the biggest safety concerns are foreign materials, such as small stones, pieces of wood and glass, or slivers of plastic. If contained within packaged frozen food products, they will pose health risks -including lacerations, choking or broken teeth. For food processors, they may result in expensive product recalls and damage to reputation.

With its vast range of optical sorting solutions, Bühler has worked for decades to enable food processors to efficiently identify and remove foreign materials.

This is achieved by using a variety of sophisticated detection technologies. InGaAs cameras, for instance are very effective for separating foreign materials from good product of the same colour.

They are based on semiconductor sensors made from indium gallium arsenide alloy and operate in the short ware infra-red range (SWIR). As a consequence, they are able to detect even the subtlest of colour differences that cannot be seen in the visible spectrum.

Bühler pioneered the use of this technology for use in the packing line, as a final check, to ensure that difficult–to-detect packaging materials such as light coloured wood in potatoes, cardboard in carrots and coloured plastic in vegetable mixes, were quickly identified and accurately removed from the product stream.

Bühler has continued to advance this technology and the development of the new high definition InGaAsHD cameras now mark the latest step in this process: “By combining a new hardware, software and lens package, we were able to engineer a new camera with double the resolution. As a result of this in-house development, our sorter will be able to identify foreign material objects down to half the previous size”,  as Benedict Deefholts, Head of Sensor Development at Bühler, describes the key advantage of the new HD cameras.

Thanks to this development, Bühler’s sorting solutions for processors of frozen fruits and vegetables now offer even better detection and removal capabilities for a wide range of foreign materials in several different stages of the processing and packing line and is particularly beneficial for processors with stringent safety specifications such as for the baby food market.

The new InGaAsHD cameras are now available for Bühler’s SORTEX E product line. Processors that are already operating SORTEX E optical sorters with Enhanced InGaAs cameras will be offered an upgrade option, enabling them to benefit from the improved detection performance of the new HD cameras with their current solution.

New Storage and Transportation Pallet

UNISEG Products has launched their Universal Segregation (UNISEG) Pallet. The UNISEG pallet is a multi-purpose storage and transportation container, that can be used as a general freight container, an Australian dangerous goods segregation device (type II) and for the direct transportation of some dangerous goods. 

The UNISEG Pallet is being manufactured by Pelican Trimcast, in Melbourne.

The Pallet has been designed to deliver Front-Load or Top-Load capability in seconds to provide flexible ergonomic loading options.

It comes with custom, changeable signage panels and is lockable for securing goods. When full, it can be fully enclosed, ready for immediate transportation and when empty it is collapsible, with no loose parts, for cost efficient reverse logistics.

The UNISEG Pallet is chemical and acid proof and incorporates a liquid retaining bund area to capture up to 25 liters of free fluids, making it ideal for the storage and transportation of certain dangerous goods and controlled hazardous wastes.Because it is vented and weather-resistant when closed, it is also suitable for outside use.

With 10 lockable over-centre latches for maximum impact protection, the UNISEG Pallet is incredible strong and has been certified to carry a maximum load of 1.2 Tonnes. It also supports several different tracking options including bar coding and or full RFID/GPS traceability.

Demand for the pallet is expected to be strong due to increasing Australian safety and environmental regulations relating to the storage and transportation of dangerous goods and hazardous wastes.

The ability to prevent the theft of goods during storage and transportation is also an important benefit for certain applications. 

High rise shelving expands warehouse footprint

Industrial occupational health and safety specialist Actisafe has introduced a new range of high rise shelving designed to assist companies expand their warehouse footprint.

Expanding further into the area of bulk storage, Defence Preferred Supplier Actisafe presents the Australian made high rise storage shelving to meet the storage needs of warehouses, components and parts processes, food manufacturers and general industrial companies.

The new shelving technology meets the storage requirements of companies seeking customised solutions.

Actisafe’s new high rise storage shelving is particularly an asset in urban environments where the premium floor space in warehouses can be optimised by the user, making it a strategic investment for companies looking to lock into lease agreements.

Key features of Actisafe high rise storage shelving systems include heavy-duty steel panel and framework construction; powder coated finish available in colours to suit user preference; and reinforced edges allowing the system to withstand a certain degree of impact from items such as forklifts, pallet tracks and other industrial materials handling equipment.

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