A modular material handling system for a new distribution facility in Cranberry, New Jersey for the end user Distribution Management Group Inc. (DMG) has been realized by Conveyor Handling Company (CHC). At the heart of this solution is the state-of-the-art crossbelt sorter technology from Interroll which reduces electricity costs, simplifies maintenance and makes product packing and distribution more efficient.
Since 1975, Baltimore, Maryland-based CHC has sold, serviced, and designed an impressive array of solutions for manufacturing companies, e-commerce and retail distributors, health care and clothing producers, and more. Past projects include crossbelt sortation systems, turnkey conveyor and racking installations, automated storage and retrieval systems, multi-tiered staging lanes, and even modular offices and mezzanines.
Despite this deep expertise, CHC recently faced an interesting challenge. One of its longtime customers, Distribution Management Group Inc. (DMG), was opening a new facility in Cranberry, New Jersey. The third-party logistics company (3PL) would be responsible for sorting, packing, and shipping products for its clients in the footwear industry and needed material handling equipment able to reliably process and ship 100 shoe boxes per minute.
Benefitting from a new approach
Technically it was possible, just not in the way that DMG imagined.
“They originally wanted us to design a distribution center modeled after their existing facilities,” explains Rich Rittermann, Vice President of Operations at CHC. “In this instance, an employee would push a cart up and down each aisle, picking shoes as they went; when the cart was full, they’d move it to a central sorting area, where other workers would start pulling boxes off the different carts and packing them until each order was filled. There was nothing wrong with their process, except that I knew it would be too labor intensive and eventually become unmanageable at the volumes they were anticipating. They needed an automatic sortation system, and it was my job to convince them of that.”
Rittermann had previous experience with such systems, but the combination of high product volumes and the need to sort color, size, and style combinations by the hundreds led him to consult with the Interroll team, who told Rittermann that they were working on a shoe distribution center in Mexico, and agreed that Interroll’s horizontal crossbelt sorter would be an ideal solution.
Reliable, energy efficient and easy to maintain
Unlike traditional crossbelt sorters, Interroll’s solution uses a pneumatically actuated plate and drive wheel mechanism rather than a motor on each carrier to transfer goods to the appropriate chute. This reduces electricity costs and simplifies maintenance to increase reliability and the gentle motion means the sorter can be used with delicate products like eggs and yogurt and it still being powerful enough to move heavy sacks of grain or animal feed.
The system is both smart and accurate, with automatic recirculation of “no-reads” and overflow products. This is especially important in e-tail, where system demands are unpredictable, and customer return rates are much higher. The horizontal crossbelt sorter is also smart about floor space. Its modular design is compact yet easy to reconfigure based on changing needs. In this particular application, CHC “double-stacked” the conveyor, maximizing the system’s throughput without increasing its footprint.
Joining competences within an intensive and successful cooperation
“I was very pleased with the cooperation between Interroll, DMG, and the CHC installation team and project managers,” says Rittermann. “It was a big step forward for our customer. They’re using it every day and are shipping out 15 to 30 thousand pairs of shoes each day, with capacity for much more. They told us at the beginning of the project that they needed equipment that would be more efficient and faster for them, a system that would give them the ability to pick shoes and ship them out the door the same day, and that’s exactly what we provided.”
John Roca, Vice-President of Distribution Management Group Inc., agrees. “Conveyor Handling Company has consistently provided high-value, excellent-quality conveyors, racks, and material handling equipment for our distribution and fulfillment operations in multiple New Jersey facilities. In fact, CHC has become our only choice for conveyor systems, sorters, material handling equipment and integrations,” he says. “They have a highly skilled team that responds with practical solutions and reliable equipment, one that stands behind all of their work and offer outstanding after-the-sale service besides!”
Interroll introduces new oil-free drum motor
Interroll is now introducing a new version of its oil-free drum motor based on the new and improved Interroll Drum Motor Platform.
Already back in 2010 Interroll introduced the first oil-free drum motors. Since then, thousands of oil-free motors have been installed and are currently in use as a proven solution for many applications, in particular in the food industry. The oil-free drum motors now being introduced into the market are drum motors based on the new and improved Interroll Drum Motor Platform that has been on the market since 2017. Synchronous oil-free drum motors are by nature very efficient, which means less heat losses and a much higher power density, as opposed to asynchronous oil-free drum motors which are prone to overheating and power reduction and therefore loss in torque.
Compared to standard drum motors, the oil-free motor’s performance is only minimally impacted by the different type of lubrication. Also, compared to a standard asynchronous motor, oil-free synchronous motors are stronger and better performing. But they require a frequency inverter and speed and torque are slightly reduced compared to a standard synchronous motor lubricated with oil. However, high-speed applications are still possible if the belt pull force is sufficient. This is also true for low-speed applications. Typical oil-free motor applications include transportation and packaging of lightweight goods such as candy, chocolate or pralines.
No leakage issues in sensitive production processes
Food manufacturers who have to comply with certain restrictions regarding food contamination benefit from this new option. Oil-free drum motors can be used for any application where the belt moves slowly (i.e., when the production process is in steps and accuracy is of paramount importance, like portioning and cutting for instance). When installed correctly, Interroll Drum Motors have no leakage issue. The oil-free drum motor makes the entire production flow safer as it eliminates any potential risk of oil contamination. It works well in cool temperatures, which are often a requirement in the food manufacturing sector. In certain industries such as fish processing, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) recommends the use of oil-free motors.
Industry 4.0 and the working world of tomorrow
Should we be concerned about the impact of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence on our working environment in the future? Will machines replace many of our jobs over the coming years? Fear is not the best response to this new era of digitalization. The digital revolution already well underway calls for a levelheaded analysis and a good dose of courage as businesses and their employees face the many new challenges that lie ahead.
The figures sound alarming. A study by the University of Oxford predicts that 47 percent of jobs in the United States could be automated over the next two decades, including traditional white-collar jobs such as accountants and loan officers. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 71 percent of working hours worldwide are currently performed by human beings and 29 percent by machines. Machines could take the lead as early as 2025, with only 48 percent of the work carried out by people, and 52 percent by machines.
Can modern technology create new work?
The idea that technology destroys jobs is an old one. In the early 1930s, the renowned economist John Maynard Keynes already warned of the unemployment that technological progress would create. He believed a 15- hour working week was in the cards. As we now know, he was wrong. So far, new technologies have created more jobs than they have rendered obsolete. Take the US for example: In February 2017, about 146 million people had a job – 205 percent more than in 1970 when computers were practically unknown. Over the same period, the US population grew by only around 60 percent.
A recent WEF study on the future of work predicts that new technologies will create more than 58 million additional jobs over the next five years. How do experts from business and academia see the future of work? moving asked several for their views.
How do experts assess the working world of the future? Interroll requested an answer:
“In times of permanent change, further education and lifelong learning will be essential to people’s employability, enabling them to adjust to the digital revolution. High in demand in the future will be cross-sectional skills such as teamwork, analysis, creativity and leadership, as well as technical expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Although automation is regarded as a threat to the working world, we should all also see this development as an opportunity to improve our emotional intelligence and one that will play an important role in occupations that involve communication, decision making, negotiation and support.”
Jessie Pallud, Professor of Information Systems EM Strasbourg Business School, France
“As a globally operating transport and logistics company, we facilitate access to goods and progress. We use digitalization and automation and invest in new technologies. We are interested in how technology can improve and support processes and the work of our employees, for example, with robot companions or augmented reality. Careers will continue to change in the future, but for us it’s clear that people will be at the center of everything. We have around 520,000 employees in 220 countries worldwide – diversity makes a big contribution to the success of our company.”
Thomas Ogilvie, Head of Human Resources and Corporate Incubations Deutsche Post DHL Group, Germany
“New technologies will create more jobs overall but, at the same time, make simple, recurring tasks redundant. Everyone increasingly will need to boost their personal skills and determine what career fulfillment means to them. To capitalize on this trend, business leaders need to recognize the individual talents of their employees instead of just expecting them to carry out instructions. It may never be achievable but there is a vision of a future without a ‘bad boss’ and reluctant workers. There are already numerous companies today that allow their employees to take ownership and work independently.”
Bart Friederichs, Managing Director TBWB, Netherlands
New MCP conveyor system for perfect material handling
The Italian e-commerce company ePRICE is feeling the effects of the steady growth in online trade. In response to the rising demand, a new warehouse was to be built which would also be ideally equipped to meet future challenges of material handling. Ideal conditions for Interroll’s modular conveyor platform MCP which offers customers plenty of scope for flexibility.
ePRICE is a leading Italian e-commerce retailer. The company offers a comprehensive product portfolio, particularly for the online sale of household technologies and appliances. To ensure a reliable and punctual delivery at the buyers, the system integrator Incas S.p.A. integrated a complete logistics system for the new distribution center. Directly on the doorstep of Milan in Trucazzano (Italy). And with Interroll as its technology partner and the mission of installing a platform that is efficient, automated and modularly scalable.
Strong growth in the e-commerce market
The decisive factor for the new warehouse was the strong growth figures that the Italian e-commerce market recently recorded: Compared to 2017, sales increased by 16%* – with an increase in the total value of online purchases to 23.6 billion euros*.
And since it is particularly important in the highly competitive online trade to map one’s own product catalog through perfect logistics processes, an automated warehouse enables efficient management for the provision of shipping packages. The fast and smooth delivery ultimately leads to higher customer satisfaction and good ratings, which is a strong factor for lasting market success for online retailers.
MCP Conveyor System manages volume increase easily
The new logistics system therefore needed a solution that could smoothly handle the expected increase in volume due to rising consumer demand. And since Interroll has the necessary products, technologies and experience, the system integrator Incas S.p.A. was pleased to have found a reliable partner to achieve its goals.
The ePRICE warehouse now uses Interroll’s Modular Conveyor Platform (MCP). It transports the pallets with the individual parcels not only in the warehouse, but also from the warehouse to the picking area, where they are combined in the initial phase for the individual orders. Weighing, strapping, reading the barcodes as well as printing and applying the labels are also carried out here. Interroll has also installed RM6008 elevators to provide access to several levels of the MCP. A highly efficient and long solution: the total length of the MCP conveyor system is almost one kilometer (920 meters). With a total of 10,150 conveyor rollers, 560 RollerDrive units and just as many photocells, it also has a large number of units.
Modular advantage for a future-proof solution
The great advantage of the new conveyor system installed at ePRICE is its high modularity: With the MCP conveyor platform, the e-commerce retailer benefits from a robust and versatile solution that combines various key components into a complete system that reliably masters all expected challenges. With the ability to easily and quickly add plug-and-play functionality to other pre-assembled components, ePRICE can meet further growth in an agile and dynamic way. All in all, it is a flexible, scalable and efficient material handling solution that makes ePRICE fit not only for today’s challenges, but also for tomorrow’s logistics challenges.
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