In the world of materials handling the efficient loading of goods in the warehouse, or into containers for actual shipping, is viewed by many logistics experts as being the pinnacle of operational excellence within the modern supply chain.
Streamlining the above process for speed and efficiency and also for the safety of all involved in the process is high on the agenda of any ‘must do’ lists posted in a fully automated warehouse.
One tool that is proving highly valuable to the loading process is the LoadPlate, designed and implemented by material handling specialist Actiw Oy.
A complete alternative
This solution is highly flexible and can speedily and smoothly load goods of varying sizes, lengths, and weights into standard containerised cargo space (DCs) in a matter of minutes. It is suitable for loading difficult cargo that is hard to containerise, is easily damaged or that requires special shipping units such as open top containers (OTs).
One of the major justifications, and payback factors of implementing LoadPlate is that you can use ordinary DCs instead of OTs. In addition to the cost of actual containerisation, the shipping and transportation costs of OTs are approximately double when compared to those of DCs. The additional cost for shippers using OTs can run into thousands of EUR per container.
Previously there hasn’t been an automated single door, container loading system available within the material handling market place. The LoadPlate principle is simple, yet unique. This system can easily cope with long items such as timber, steel plates, tubes, and profiles. It is also highly suitable for heavy and complex cargo that has traditionally needed to be loaded into open top containers. Loads are moved smoothly on a plate into the cargo space.
The risk of product damage is minimised and cargo quality is better ensured compared to traditional loading methods.
LoadPlate has already proved itself as a tried and trusted partner in the hub and Jari Vartiainen, International Sales Director, ACTIW, believes that the company has a highly stable and durable product. "This is a tool already in use where automated loading is called for," says Vartiainen.
Vartiainen adds that feedback from those using the device is positive. "As for the standalone LoadPlate we haven’t received feedback from customers that would require any remarkable action, however we are always pressing forward with technical developments to find new ways of manufacture and making small improvements to the system."
Savings on transportation costs
"The operating costs of LoadPlates are low, a couple of euros per loaded container, including electricity and wearing parts."
With LoadPlate one shot loading in a few minutes, by only one operator, is a reality. This makes for an increase in vehicle turnaround times meaning that a saving on transportation costs can be realised.
Actiw has also developed a LoadStrip accessory for the unloading of full cargo loads in a few minutes, after which the containers are ready for new use.
From a health and safety aspect deploying LoadPlate means that the use of cargo handling equipment can be minimised to reduce the human involvement on the site.
Klaus G. Andersen is the head of Danish company Fredericia Shipping, a significant logistics agency and terminal company with headquarters at the Port of Fredericia. With the cross section for East/West and North/South bound rail and road traffic this is an important Baltic hub that has to handle a variety of heavy and bulky cargoes.
Andersen believes that using LoadPlate has brought new efficiencies when performing difficult loading tasks.
Making operational savings
"We heard about the LoadPlate system from a client that had been using one in Sweden," says Andersen. "Basically the ACTIW LoadPlate was the only viable solution for us to stuff long, heavy items into standard ocean going DC containers where there is only an access through one door."
Andersen was impressed as soon as the system went into service. "The alternative was to use open top containers and load them by a crane. The potential saving was immediate as the cost of sea freight for the OTs is far more expensive than for standard DC containers."
Now one shot loading in a few minutes by only one operator is an everyday process for Andersen’s team at Fredericia Shipping.
The use of cargo handling equipment can be minimised meaning that human involvement within the site is reduced.
"We have been hit by the current economic crisis and the turnover on the investment on the LoadPlate has been less than expected."
"However we still believe that we will have payback, albeit within a slightly longer period than the originally expected time of a couple of years."
Loading fragile goods
Another company involved in receiving and shipping bulky goods from all over the world is French timber specialist Bois du Nord France. This is a company that deals with shipments from all over the world. The business specialises in supplying rough sawn timber, and planed, impregnated wood of all sizes and sections.
Company spokesman Bruno Deveau says that he first saw LoadPlate being used at Vika Wood in Latvia. "We then started thinking about the system when we visited their sawmill and saw the advantages that LoadPlate could bring to the business."
"Now we can load without creating any damage to the cargo that we place in our containers. This is a great advantage when it comes to loading fragile items," concludes Deveau.