Africa-based intralogistics storage solutions provider APC Storage Solutions SA completed the installation and training for the racking, pallet shuttles and sprinkler system of a turnkey system for customs franchised-container freight station company Intermodal Cargo Solutions.
“About 110 containers are received by Intermodal fortnightly and 5 500 pallets are dispatched, resulting in total warehouse turnaround every two weeks. Owing to this, the installed pallet shuttle system is designed to prevent or minimise damage to racking units, as well as best control first-in, first-out (FIFO) principle and batch receive and dispatch operations,” explains APC Storage Solutions SA KwaZulu-Natal region and automation GM Ettienne Meyburgh.
He adds that APC’s proposed solution meant that standard operating procedures, business rules and the active target rate of receiving and dispatching needed to be taken into consideration, as well as receiving and dispatching to door locations. “This was necessary to enable the customer to optimally plan for pick and replenishment waves without negatively impacting on warehouse flows.”
The pallet shuttles, which are a part of the turnkey solution, have several safety and control systems in place, which include incorporated electrical components that allow for autonomous displacements, and wireless networking technology (WiFi) commands transmitted to the shuttle’s programmable logic controllers, Meyburgh explains.
He adds that the shuttles also include an emergency stop button, with sensors to bring the shuttle to a halt in the event of a collision or when obstructions are picked up while moving in the storage tunnels, as well as bumpers and stop points to avoid would-be accidents. He notes that the WiFi-controlled terminal allows for the control of multiple shuttles from a tablet, with intuitive functioning enabling operators to use push-button actions only to convey instructions.
Meyburgh mentions that, owing to the pallet shuttle having its own ‘intelligence’ and electrical supply system, it can not only stock pallets deep inside storage tunnels but also retrieve and convey them to the front of the tunnel.
He notes that the shuttles’ deep lane storage and retrieval, with the ability to transport various pallet sizes and loads of up to 1 500 kg at speeds reaching 1.3 m/s, add to increased productivity and enhance product safety. “Operator time is reduced by half, FIFO efficiency is retained and available storage capacity is maximised.”
The company provided the first block of shuttle racking 30 m, 18 lanes wide, five levels high and 68 pallets deep, and another block six lanes wide, four levels high and 20 pallets deep, coupled with a high-quality WiFi radio pallet shuttle system operating on the FIFO principle. This is one of the deepest shuttle systems currently installed in the world
He points out that this specific solution consists of four pallet shuttles. “A supplementary . . . pallet shuttle was issued on consignment, as was a rescue cart to assist with the unlikely event of battery failure. If repositioning or site transfers are required, the pallet shuttle is manually handled using a conventional reach truck.”
In addition, Meyburgh comments, overall efficiency improvements are achieved through safer pallet handling, a 10 mm accuracy rate, electronic pallet-length checks for optimal density storage and operators remaining outside the tunnels.
“We manufacture strictly according to European standards set for this industry; we also work according to the guidelines as per Federation of Material handling equipment, the Rack Manufacturers Institute’s TUVGS (a German product service standard),” he points out.
Meyburgh says that the installation of the system was done in two phases, taking about three months in total.
Before Phase I of the installation was complete, Intermodal realised the need for additional capacity sooner than expected.
“They commissioned us to install a planned Phase II as part of Phase I. We were sufficiently flexible to incorporate the latter requirements into our installation and we completed this part of the project in an operational environment,” he emphasises.
Meyburgh concludes that the company is in production for a full year subsequent to the implementation of APC Storage Solutions SA’s full maintenance agreement.