Leading loading/unloading equipment specialist Thorworld Industries Ltd has highlighted its ability to devise tailor-made solutions to meet individual customers’ specific logistics needs with a number of recent installations.
Thorworld’s bespoke loading and unloading solutions incorporate design, testing, manufacture, installation and full servicing and maintenance. The company is committed to handling every step of the process in-house, promising that work is not subcontracted to outside agencies in order to maintain complete quality control throughout the life of the project.
"With over 30 years’ experience, we’ve come across all kinds of unusual warehouse and loading/unloading environments and received many challenging requests," explains John Meale, managing director of Thorworld. "We are therefore confident that we can provide a practical and cost-effective solution to virtually any loading/unloading problem by utilising the long-term experience and specialist expertise of our team."
The process begins by visiting the site and planning an appropriate installation, tailored to the specific customer requirements and space available. Typical real-life applications have included a fixed loading ramp, incorporating an existing concrete ramp onto which a yardramp needed to be adjoined, and a warehouse where extremely limited space necessitated developing a ramp that could be moved sideways for storage once the loading operation was completed.
Thorworld’s design team creates a blueprint using 3D CAD visualisation, to show the customer what the finished installation will look like and to confirm that the intended solution is practical and cost-effective. Given the unique nature of each bespoke product, this provides the designers with rewarding technical challenges that, in turn, provoke new ideas for product development.
The solution for the fixed loading ramp was a cut-down version of Thorworld’s 6 tonne capacity, Type 10 mobile yardramp, which needed to be carefully redesigned to fit flush with an existing concrete ramp, in order to provide a consistent gradient. A counterbalanced drawbridge leveller then spans the gap to the vehicle, and allows a wide range of vehicles to be served due to its 350mm height variation. The leveller was also fitted with collapsible handrails to provide a safe, efficient workspace and, when not in use, the leveller is stored in an upright position.
Similarly, with the very tight space constraints, the concept devised for the sideways ramp solution involved modifying Thorworld’s Deluxe 10,000Kg capacity Type 7 yardramp, by fitting an additional set of wheels that were orientated perpendicular to the normal direction of travel. This enables quick and easy sideways movement of the ramp for storage when not in use.
The design stage is enhanced by extensive testing to ensure that the desired equipment will be robust enough to withstand regular warehouse usage. "Equipment gets very robust treatment during loading and unloading, so we design and build hard-wearing industrial kit that will provide long-term reliability," explains John Meale. Methods include Finite Element Analysis and, where possible, physical testing.
Once Thorworld and the customer are happy with the proposals, manufacturing is conducted at the company’s Chesterfield facility. This is where Thorworld’s build team confirms its ingenuity in being able to meet the often leftfield concepts devised by the designers so that customer needs can be fully met, if not exceeded.
For the sideways yardramp, one particular challenge was to build one set of wheels on telescopic legs. This allowed use of the ramp in a traditional manner, but ensured that the ramp could then be lowered onto the perpendicular set of wheels to push/pull sideways for storage.
Installation is another crucial part of any bespoke project because Thorworld must accommodate the customer’s regular working patterns into its schedule. For the fixed ramp application involving the existing concrete ramp, the installation was completed within a single day to minimise disruption to the customer’s logistics operations.
But, with Thorworld, it doesn’t end there. Service and maintenance contracts for Thorworld equipment provide a comprehensive aftercare package that delivers long-term peace of mind through regular maintenance and an extended warranty. "We’re confident in the success of our bespoke applications but, as with any industrial equipment, it pays to properly and regularly maintain it in order to avoid costly downtime," John Meale explains.
Thorworld also offers full operator training as part of the overall project management. John Meale concludes: "The nature of bespoke solutions is that even experienced loading bay operators will be unfamiliar with the new equipment. Our training programme takes into account the specifics of the solution to ensure that customers learn the safest and most efficient way to use it."