Updated: Jun 23, 2021
DCwise.eu shares in this post ideas on how you can improve your solutions ➟
When running a logistical operation - due to its nature often a very complex environment - there is a major benefit to be received from setting up conveyors and slides.
1️⃣ The "Need"
Something peculiar is going on with slides & conveyors. Although as a kid everybody wants a slide and just seeing one made you smile; once you come into a logistical environment the enthusiasm is gone.
⭐ In this we might be overlooking a large potential for improvement!? ⭐
Today there is a lot of talk and direction towards mechanization automation especially towards the newer AMRs, Drones, Robots, and much more. But there are few more simple ways to automate manual steps then by using slides/conveyors. This while they move your goods without much effort from point A to point B.
👉So in this blog post we suggest a review of the potential for these types of resources; wondering if it was not overlooked.
Note: as of now we refer to conveyors but know that this also can be a slide, ramps or other similar resources that facilitate movements.
2️⃣ The "Review"
Question is how to approach the review?
Start by looking at the repetitive movements in your operation as there are:
- (un)loading upon a dock
- moving boxes over a distance in receiving sorting/packing cells
- throwing waste in the dumpsters
- moving back empty totes/handling box to the workstations/cells
- moving pallets and boxes up and down between levels
- and so on
✔ Important first is to validate if the material is suited or can be made suited for conveyors/slides. Are these standard pallets or bulldozers? The first one is eligible the second one will be hard.
✔ Second element to validate is the volumes. What is the number of moves or frequency of use in this going from the same starting to the same ending point? The higher the volume the more interesting a conveyor or slide becomes.
👉 Where the review often breaks is that "all" volume is requested to move over the "tool". This includes the oversize, peak volumes, fragile, etc... which might not match up with a standard solution. Often at this point the idea is dumped although most of the volume might be suited!
⭐Question is why not let that portion of the volume that fits move through the improvement and capture the related benefits. Practically there just needs to be left space for the remaining (exceptions) to move through another process.
- Install on a limited surface/docks conveyors to cooperate with the (un)loading process. Oversize can be placed next to these docks and docking can be aligned to the different docks depending of the truck content.
- Use a slide from a second level mezzanine to supply only the "small boxes" to a packing station. The other orders pass through the current process of using a gate, elevator, etc.
✔ Another element is the cost and ROI.
A gravity conveyor for boxes or pallets is not that expensive. Once that one can be supported by the improvements more complex concepts can even be reviewed.
Also a gravity conveyor is a good first step to become familiar and get acceptance.
Note: that it works well together with the automation (AMR etc.) while the workload can queue (buffer) on these. Explaining why one sees a lot of conveyors in automation environments.
✔ Last but not least there is the acceptance.
With every new idea there is the resistance, opinions, and fear ...
⭐ To overcome this why not install one testing ramp... use it, abuse it, and see how it works and fits in with your operations.
E.g. Just by installing maybe a drop with just 3 pallet spots. This is also an ideal way to get familiar and the best end-result in place and work out the potential kinks before moving a larger impacting setup.
👉 For sure a good rack-supplier will assist in working out such concepts.
3️⃣ The modern variants
It is important to know that even the conveyor-technology is constantly evolving...
⭐ Modern conveyors are more flexible in nature then their older counterparts.
E.g., there are now (powered automated) conveyors which can be
- easily moved (while they are for example on wheels),
- easy to set up (while powered through one connection and a plug and play steering) - are made up out of "Lego" pieces which are just connected to each other as per need.
👉Its easy to see that these types of conveyors can be used in flexible ways to support changing needs and processes over the course of time and again new opportunities are opening... while the volumes needed to pay back the investment become easier to be found.
This works immediately into the analysis of the volumes and the "from-to" relation. While before an installation might be fix in nature, now it can be moved and used to set as per need, as per project, as per job, etc.
☞ Now you should be (more) empowered to improve your operation and hopefully we will see more smiles and slides 😊
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