vrijdag 19 augustus 2022

Case study Automatic Container Unloading Logistics


Unique collaboration between Cartonmover and Qimarox

Automatic Container Unloading Logistics palletizer

OMS saves manpower and improves health with Automatic Container Unloading 

OMS International saves costs by automating the unloading of containers. The logistics service provider from Oosterhout has installed a unique solution from Cartonmover in close cooperation with Qimarox for this purpose. With this solution, boxes are unloaded at high speed and automatically stacked on pallets. The key to success is the unique pattern generator from Qimarox that automatically generates stacking patterns and translates them into instructions for the palletizer.

Unloading containers is physically demanding work. Employees must bend deeply, reach high and constantly twist their bodies to pick up the often large and heavy boxes one by one and lift them onto a telescoping conveyor. More and more retailers and wholesalers who import their goods are looking for solutions that make the work more bearable. A large proportion of them end up with Cartonmover, the company that eight years ago brought the first semi-automatic solution for unloading shipping containers onto the market.

Unburdening employees

One of these companies is OMS International, which unloads about a hundred containers of non-food items every day for one of the largest supermarket chains. The logistics service provider from Oosterhout was looking for a solution to relieve the two hundred employees from Eastern Europe. Via the Internet, Jaroslaw Wiecha, operational director of OMS, stumbled upon Cartonmover. After a one-month test period, he was convinced of the usefulness and efficiency of the most popular model: the ERGO.

The Cartonmover Ergo is a mobile machine with a 900 mm wide conveyor belt and a 2000 mm wide platform that can move up and down. Employees therefore no longer have to stand on the bottom boxes to pick up the top boxes. Because the telescopic belt can be lowered to 30 centimeters from the bottom, they hardly have to lift the bottom boxes anymore. This leads to considerably less  physical complaints. Anyone can therefore start working with this machine immediately and process up to 1800 boxes per hour. There is a good reason why this machine is used in almost all of Amazon's European distribution centers.

Automatic palletizing of boxes

However, the Cartonmover Ergo only solves part of the problem. The boxes that, thanks to this machine, are unloaded out of the container with much less effort and at a higher speed, still have to be stacked on pallets: a manual and labor-intensive job that until now also led to many physical complaints. "That is why we started looking together with OMS for an additional solution for palletizing boxes. We have seen several palletizers and palletizing robots in practice," says Wiecha together with Tony Groters of Cartonmover.

The choice finally fell on the Highrunner HR9 from Qimarox. This palletizer offers more capacity than a palletizing robot, more than enough to handle the flow of boxes from the Cartonmover. An additional advantage is that, unlike a robot, the boxes are carried at the bottom, which limits the risk of product damage. Qimarox's special stacking method also ensures better stacked pallets. "With the people from Qimarox we immediately had a click. Unlike other suppliers, they were prepared to modify the design of the standard machine, enabling us to increase capacity by another 25 percent," says the warehouse management team at OMS.

New: Qimarox Pattern Generator

The decisive factor in choosing the Qimarox palletizer is the new pattern generator. This is particularly important when unloading containers. For each new container, the box size must first be determined and then a new stacking pattern must be created. "Manually measuring boxes and programming stacking patterns is a time-consuming task. The cost of this does not outweigh the benefits of automatic palletizing.".

The pattern generator developed by Qimarox works fully automatically. The employee only has to place the first three boxes in a 3D scanner to determine the dimensions. The underlying software automatically calculates the average box size including tolerances. Is the box size already in memory? Then the corresponding stacking pattern is called up. Is the box size not yet known? Then the software generates a number of new stacking patterns, from which the employee can select one. After the selection the pattern is automatically translated into instructions for the machine."

70 percent of box sizes

OMS is the first company to apply the pattern generator. An extensive test preceded this. Cartonmover first sent a file of 8,000 box sizes from OMS to Qimarox, 70 percent of which could be stacked automatically with the help of the pattern generator. "Then we sent a few test pallets with various box formats to Qimarox's demo center in Harderwijk. These could indeed be processed without any problems. That was enough proof to put the pattern generator into operation," Wiecha and Groters explain.

The Qimarox Highrunner HR9 is installed at a fixed location in the OMS International warehouse. The cartons are fed via roller conveyors and chain conveyors from Roltrax, which also supplied the integrated pallet wrapper and empty pallet buffer station. Flexible harmonica conveyors from Cartonmover connect this static setup with the mobile Cartonmover ERGO. The cabling, control and site management is in the hands of DH Automation. "All machines are built in the Netherlands. The entire system was installed on time according to plan." says Groters, who acted as the main contractor with his company Cartonmover.

24 hours a day, 5 days a week

Meanwhile, the Cartonmover Ergo in combination with the Qimarox Highrunner HR9 runs no less than 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. OMS is now able to process 10,000 cartons per day. Groters: "Originally, the Cartonmover ERGO was designed to serve three docks. By supplying additional flexible conveyors, OMS is able to deploy the machine at four docks, enabling the company to work through the night without having to move containers. The entire system has been running successfully for over a year now and has saved several FTEs. Partly because of this, the Return on Investment period is short."

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