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Sound reasons for a quiet container

Edward Hutchison, MD of Bito Storage systems, considers the benefits of designing a plastic container to be as quiet as possible in storage systems and on conveyors.

A plastic container traveling down a roller conveyor of a storage system will naturally make a certain amount of noise but that on its own may not be particularly disturbing. Of course, modern warehouses, distribution centres and factories – particularly automated facilities – often have hundreds of containers travelling around them on conveyors. The cumulative noise generated by these containers will be noticeable.

It will add to the cacophony of sound reverberating around the building from forklift truck engines, masts and brakes as well as pallets banging on the floor, loading bay doors opening and shutting, compressors and other mechanical handling or factory equipment. It may not be deafening but it can be uncomfortable to work in across the course of a shift or a day. A negative impact on productivity – particularly for those facilities with voice picking operations, would not be a surprise. Anything that can be done to create a low noise environment will make a better work place.

So how to make a container quiet? In the case of Bito’s XLmotion moulded polypropylene container, the answer is in the base. This container, which is ideal for automated systems and is at home on any conveyor, has a framed double base for extra solidity and features diagonal support ribbing. This combination helps to avoid dents or depressions in the base that can generate extra noise. In fact, with an evenly distributed load capacity of 50 kg, the base has a maximum deflection of less than 5 mm. This combination ensures silent travelling on conveyors, as well as giving excellent rigidity, making it Ideal for facilities operating low noise environments.

To measure the difference this makes, Bito tested the XLmotion against a number of competitor bins with ribs and or double bases, on a powered roller conveyor run. While the competitor bins produced a range of sound meter readings between 66.8 db to 77.1 db, the XL Motion gave a reading of just 60.9 db. That might not sound much but, as mentioned at the start, the benefit of reducing the overall decibel level is potentially phenomenal in a facility where there are hundreds of containers.

The XLmotion not just a strong silent type – it comes with numerous other virtues. With a base width of 389 mm instead of the 363 mm European standard, it can rest on narrower ‘seats’ (57 mm instead of 70 mm) within an Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS). This reduces the amount of steel required and thus allows a more cost efficient system design. Furthermore, the container can be adapted for use in an AS/RS from any supplier.

External dimensions for the XLmotion are 599 mm (length) x 399 mm (container width) and it comes in heights of 220, 270 mm and 320 mm. Load capacity is 50 kg and stacking load is 250 kg. Inexpensive, slim yet robust dividers give a plethora of options for subdivisions. An optional drop-on lid with snap lock does not add to the container height and will not come off when handling speed.

If by selecting a versatile plastic container a company can save money and create a quiet environment, then that has to be worth making a noise about.

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