Automated sortation system installed specifically to deal with “small traffic”
The UKs largest dedicated parcel carrier officially opened its new purpose built, 15,000 square metre, parcel distribution hub in Warrington back in 2014. Designed to support the continuation of growth of the company the new hub has a capacity of around 550,000 parcels a day – almost three times that of the previous site in Warrington.
The facility’s purpose was to help with the developing requirement for next day deliveries, playing a key role in plans for international expansion and to provide a platform for further innovation, as the company looks to introduce a host of new products to the market.
L.A.C Conveyor Systems Ltd is now entering its 4th year, working closely with the multinational delivery company, in the development and implementation of innovative, flexible technologies to suit the ever-evolving challenge of handling parcels from a wide range of shapes and sizes whilst achieving faster processing times.
L.A.C Conveyor Systems innovative
The latest challenge was to introduce a sortation solution specifically designed to accommodate small sized parcels. Prior to the new solution the sortation of “small traffic” was a combined sortation process, with larger parcels. This combined automated parcel sortation approach meant that smaller parcels were harder to control and ultimately ended up being manually sorted. This system required a lot of human intervention to gain full control, proving not the most efficient approach, as the accuracy of the sort could not be guaranteed. Separating smalls from larger parcels meant higher throughputs could be achieved utilising a more streamlined solution with a 100% accuracy of sort.
L.A.C Conveyor Systems innovative “Automation Toolbox” meant a combination of technologies could be combined to satisfy the required solution and could be delivered and implemented within a small footprint and with minimal disruption to current operations.
The solution utilised L.A.C designed induct/feed conveyors, handling bulk parcels on infeed for initial parcel separation, which were then separated further utilising a flighted belt conveyor, leading on to a horizontal conveyor with 5 moveable ploughs and 1 fixed. The parcels were then broken down further spread across 6 chutes, presenting parcels to an operator platform. Operator interaction at this stage of the process provided a means of orientating parcels and placing them onto a Equinox split tray sorter with barcode labels accessible for automated scanning and verification.
The Equinox split tray sorter is a tray-based “bomb-bay” sorter developed specifically to handle flat goods such as packets, books, garments, parcels, and accessories, making it the ideal choice for L.A.C to integrate as part of a turnkey solution. The system offers the capacity to sort 10,000 trays per hour exceeding the requirements, but offering scope for future growth. It has a characteristic oval-shaped conveyor on which the trays circulate. This “open oval” design allows operators and further automation to integrate with ease.
An overhead scanning system ensured parcel identification and location could be achieved at high speed. L.A.C’s modular software design structure offered a seamless link with the host IT system, completing the final piece of the puzzle.
This unique automation approach has ensured a fast and flexible response to future e-commerce demands and has enabled an increased ability to handle parcels of such a shape and size in such a controlled manner. L.A.C’s diverse inhouse skill set has offered a solution that is cost effective providing faster processing of incoming “small” parcels.
Modernising the supply chain network
System to handle small sized parcels only
Cost effective and efficient flow of goods to consumers
Selecting & implementing the best technology
Allow for more next-day delivery
Increased order accuracy
Overall reduction in costs
Integrate with latest supply chain technology
Key services & Technologies
Feed conveyor – shaft mounted motor, tapered hopper to allow product to fall onto flyted belt conveyor.
Modular belt conveyor with hopper
Discharge conveyor with high side for product control
5 off moving ploughs and 1 fixed. Underslung braked motor with pivot arm connected to plough
6 off discharge chutes
6 off operator stations
Each discharge station offering PTL button light module
Double tray wide oval sorter
Sorter gross capacity (10,000 trays per hour)
Tray type 7 DT Double Tray – (Bombay also known as split tray)
Sorter direction – Clockwise
Barcode label control linking carton to station
Item detection sensing
Omni Camera Scanner – Overhead system for barcode label capture
L.A.C IT hardware and Software integration
Wireless network connection
VPN Remote Access
100% Accuracy of sort.
Increased supply chain efficiencies
Sortation direct into shipping cartons
Easy to use, simple efficient design and low maintenance decrease cost and increase uptime.
Design allows for the highest accuracy as well as a very small footprint without losing throughput.
New, aesthetic Conveying System for the future
The young Swiss startup Avancon SA (www.avancon.com) has set itself the goal to revolutionize the unit handling systems in distribution and logistics centers. They offer now a new modern and very innovative conveying system. This will be distributed worldwide by manufacturers of conveyor systems and logistic system integrators. The system has been developed by Dieter Specht, the founder of the Interroll Group.The car industry, the computer industryand even the machine industry presentevery few years new and moderndesigned models. Why? To be able toattack new markets and new customers.However, it is hard to see somethingnew in the conveyor industry.
Most ofthe unit conveyor systems weredeveloped 15, 20 or even 50 years agoand are still sold today in a construction,which remembers on the patents of theBritish toy manufacturer Frank Hornby,who has already registered his patent ofa “Meccano” kit in 1901.Now, the two young founders of the start-up Avancon SA are ready to revolutionize the conveyor industry with thisnew and streamlined concept. It’s full of innovative and functionalideas and has been patented worldwide.
Originally, Dieter Specht had developed this systemfor Interroll. But it didn’t fit to their philosophy. So hefound two enthusiastic entrepreneurs, Denis Ratz,he has a bachelor of science in business informaticsand Dr. Daniele Gambetta, who has a PhD inelectric machines. They established inTicino/Switzerland a new start-up under the name Avancon SA (from Avant-garde and Conveyor).
The CEO, Denis Ratz showed the new conveyor system to some large and important manufacturers of conveyor- and logistics-systems and got a very positive response.
“Of course, we wanted to see the reactions to our completely new and very modern designed conveyor concept,” says Denis Ratz. “Most were positively impressed about the outstanding design. I could answer all their questions about the functions and requirements of the market. After these meetings with CEOs and technical managers of big and well-known companies I was highly motivated. Now we are ready. Everything is finished and tested. We can deliver. Several potential customers will visit our large test facility here in Ticino. We believe that the functions and the many advantages of this innovative system will convince them.”
Avancon SA invested heavily into development, in machines, in molds, patents and in the production. With a clever marketing concept enables an exclusive group of Conveyor Manufacturers and System Integrators worldwide to promote the system under their own label/brand and house color to the final market, the operators of logistics and distribution center.
Denis Ratz explains: “We want to offer something avant-garde to the manufacturers of conveyors and intralogistics systems. But we don’t want to interfere with the market of our customers and we will not offer to distribution- and logistics-systems directly to operating companies. Even though this modern system will catch the eye of every manager of this industry.”
The partner and head of technique, Dr. Daniele Gambetta, is an experienced specialist for electronic control and DC-motors. He has patents of completely new DC-motors, which will also be integrated in the future in the Avancon Conveyor System.
“Today – in the digital age of ‘industry-4’ – the electronic connectivity is of enormous importance. I was very fascinated by the ideas of Dieter Specht, so I have joined this young start-up,” says Dr. Daniele Gambetta. “I have never seen such a convincing new concept in the conveyor industry. Everything is completely different, new, safer and much better. We believe that about 80 % of all goods up to 50 kg weight, which have to be transported millions of times worldwide every day, can be handled with this new system.”
Meanwhile, the design has been awarded by the internationally well known “Red-Dot” price in Germany and also by the very coveted throughout Asia, “Good-Design” award in Japan.
The two partners have a lot of courage to break into such an established market today. But who would not want to offer their customers something very aesthetic, even revolutionizing, which differs to all previous designs?
Why aesthetic? Well, ask yourself: would you buy today a machine, which is not modern covered? Now you can offer your customers something extraordinary that combines innovation with emotions.
Denis Ratz says: “We are very positive about the future. We have just moved into a newly built modern factory, which corresponds to our DNA. Here we have a daily capacity production of up to 400 meters conveyor tracks of our new ZPC- system. Anyone who builds conveyor systems by himself can obtain all individual elements from us and so use the patents free of charge. Several customers want to exhibit the new system at one of their upcoming trade fairs.
‘ZPC’ system means “Zone Powered Conveyor” system, in which each zone is controlled and driven separately. The system is extremely flexible and adaptable. It is capable of slow or fast transporting in any desired line and, where necessary, can accumulate without pressure. The system can also communicate with higher IT or Bus system very easily and at significantly reduced installation cost.
Of course it transports goods in all directions, with all the functions an engineer wants for logistics systems.
Last but not least it seems to be much cheaper than it looks.
Overhead Conveyor Automates Electroplating System
PACLINE Overhead Conveyors has developed a pre-engineered system for handling the 10 to 12 foot long copper bars used in Electro-Plating shops. This sophisticated design has eliminated the necessity of using hand operated trolleys for the transfer of workloads to and from the hoist lines of plating tanks.
The PAC-LINE™ overhead conveyor, using our standard No. 175 Bar Carrier Trolley, can transport loads in excess of 400 lbs. Our special design allows the 10 to 12 foot long work bar to manoeuver the standard radius curves of the overhead conveyor with ease. Loaded racks can be easily transferred from the overhead conveyor to the hoist for dipping as required.
This system is designed to allow the transfer of the loaded work bar directly from the hoist to the overhead conveyor. This loading signals the conveyor to run until the empty No. 175 trolley is in position to receive the next loaded work bar from the plating line.
The same system applies to the opposite end of the plating tanks. Loaded work bars are automatically delivered to the front of the line of plating tanks. The hoist can quickly pick up the loaded bar carrier, beginning the plating process.
The entire conveyor system is synchronized to allow both the empty bar carrier and the loaded carrier to stop automatically at opposite ends of the elecroplating line, so that the loading and unloading of the hoist can be completed simultaneously between the conveyor’s cycles.
This proven Electro-Plating system can substantially increase your production and at the same time eliminate unnecessary labor.
Selma Increases Production Capacity, Improves Ergonomics
Customer: Selma Oak Flooring
SIC Code: 2426
Application: Oak and laminated flooring manufacturing facility
“We use conveyors throughout the whole manufacturing, rework, and recycling process,” says Dave Clark, the plant’s manufacturing operations manager. “We used to do a lot of hand carrying or moving around the material on skids and in carts. Three or four people were needed to transport the rework or recovery items alone.
Besides its ergonomic impact, the old handling operation suffered from another problem that detracted from needed productivity. It was too slow to meet market demands.
The desired solution:
Selma needed to reduce the physical handling of both work-in-process and waste while at the same time increasing the output of finished product to meet rising market demands in a timely manner.
Key to this upgrade was the introduction of Hytrol conveyors – primarily horizontal belt conveyors—at critical parts of the flow process. The Selma Oak Flooring operation is simple and cost-effective. It gets the job done smoothly and efficiently without the need for costly computer controls. The designers also made the system compact so that it could fit in the existing building configuration.
With the new system, the “green” raw material is introduced into the conveyorized materials-flow process after it’s fully air-dried or dried by kiln. Saw operators remove knots and other imperfections from board that has been placed on slat conveyors in front of them. The length of the cut wood can range anywhere from 82 inches down to 12 inches. The cut pieces then move on another slat conveyor where the tongue-and-groove operators square them away in preparation for movement through dust-removing ventilators. After ventilation, the wood moves onto another set of slat conveyors that leads to the quality control station. There an operator separates the waste and scrap from the good-quality pieces.
The scrap material moves on a Hytrol TA horizontal belt conveyor that links up with another TA conveyor running the length of the building. This is the main scrap-removal conveyor line. It includes an incline section that takes the waste material up and outside of the plant to an outdoor recycle bin. This automated scrap flow system replaces the old method of removing trash, which was largely a manual operation. In addition, it eliminates the problem of scrap falling onto the floor or having to be placed in dump carts, thereby creating congestion.
The good wood moves on to the sorting stations. At this point, operators place the pieces on a Hytrol chain-drive conveyor, which feeds into one of three TR belt conveyors. These belts, which have angled sides that minimize damage to the wood and prevent scraps from falling into the bearing mechanisms, feed into the final quality control station. At this critical juncture in the process, operators carefully examine the pieces for any blemishes. First-quality wood travels on a takeaway conveyor to the shipment preparation stations.
Since Selma Oak Flooring completed installation, production has increased by more than 40 percent and labor savings have exceeded 25 percent.
The new conveyor system reduces wear and tear on the company’s employees by lessening the number of times material has to be manually handled.
Simplicity, efficiency, and compactness are the hallmarks of this installation. Reflecting on his experience with the new system, Dave Clark concludes, “The conveyors have improved every aspect of our operation – people, productivity, and costs.” This means that Selma Oak Flooring can stay on top of the booming demand for its product.
Application: Floor manufacturing
Facility Size: 150,000 square feet
Employees: 106 (per shift)
Product Handled: 3/4-inch oak
Key Material Handling Hardware: TA and TR belt, chain drive conveyors
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