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The composite revolution in Modular Handling

Modular handling systems took a major step forward recently with the launch of the new Graphit system from Trilogiq. Gone are the old-style heavy gauge steel tubes and angular brackets, to be replaced with sleek new composite connectors and tubes made from carbon fibre, anodised aluminium and stainless steel. The resulting structures are lighter, more robust and often stronger than those made with earlier systems. They would not look out of place in a trendy loft conversion but the benefits to anyone who wants to stock, store or transport items in an industrial setting are very real.

Originally developed to support lean manufacturing and cellular production, the primary use of modular systems like Graphit is to create highly efficient, ergonomic and adaptable structures for storing and handling items in a warehouse, factory or workshop. Structures can be optimised for the shape and size of the items being handled, the specific space available or the processes employed. They can be adapted whenever and as often as required to maintain efficiency when circumstances change or to exploit incremental process improvements. These fundamental benefits have ensured that modular systems are now widely used across the supply chain and have even been used in sectors such as retailing and exhibitions.

The first major difference between Graphit and traditional systems is the design and appearance of the connectors. Engineers at Trilogiq have devised a completely new concept – known as VeryGrip® – which combines strong composite casings with polymer inserts. The result is a connector, available in various colours and angles, which grips the tubes precisely and securely to create strong joints but which cannot be over-tightened. Unlike previous systems there is no risk of these connectors marking or damaging the tubes. For many the biggest benefit will be that all components can be reused over and over again without losing their appearance, strength or integrity. Fewer replacement parts are required and the long-term utility of the system delivers excellent value and return on investment.

The new connector design also means that the joint is completely and securely enclosed in a MonoBlok® with smooth edges around the tube’s whole circumference to eliminate the ingress of water, liquids, dust and other contaminants. This helps prevent corrosion but also makes the new system more suited to applications where cleanliness and hygiene are paramount, such as pharmaceutical or food preparation and production.

During assembly the unique and patented interlocking InstantMatch® design ensures components can be aligned quickly and easily with complete accuracy. A polymer insert holds the nut and screw in the correct position so that they can be brought together with one hand using simple tools. Assembly can be up to 30 per cent faster than conventional systems which reduces downtime and improves productivity. A SoftAdjust® feature allows components to be repositioned quickly and accurately with complete ease. This supports the small modifications and incremental process improvements that are at the heart of the lean manufacturing concept.

Graphit tubes are available in a choice of carbon fibre, anodised aluminium or stainless steel in a variety of gauges, finishes and shades to complement the colours of the connectors. The aluminium tubes are 65 per cent lighter, carbon fibre tubes 86 per cent lighter and composite connectors 60 per cent lighter than steel alternatives. These weight savings result in structures that are easier to handle and move. When loadings or other limits are important this allows more or heavier items to be handled without exceeding restrictions.

Like other modular systems the tubes can be supplied, or cut on site, to any length to create the desired configuration and dimension for the application. End stops with clean profile lines guarantee consistent seating inside the joint. When maximum joint-strength is required an innovative slip ring can be used in conjunction with the connector and tube. This provides absolute protection against joint deformation in the event of a shock or impact.

Roller track components, available in various lengths, allow users to incorporate live racking into their installations, for example to support line-side delivery or replenishment of fast-moving inventory. Trilogiq’s extensive range of wheels and accessories can all be used with Graphit to provide complete flexibility to design and configure installations for maximum efficiency and productivity.

Graphit is the result of more than two years of research and development at Trilogiq and builds on the company’s experience in devising ergonomic modular lean manufacturing logistics systems since 1992. It complements the company’s existing steel-based LeanTek range. The system is exclusively available in the UK from The Tube and Bracket Company.

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