Taking place from 19-22 March 2013 at the NEC in Birmingham, the International Materials Handling Exhibition (IMHX) will once again feature a wealth of labour-saving and cost-reducing ideas for the supply chain. With some 400 exhibitors showcasing their latest products and services, the show promises to be the source of innovative material handling solutions for a diverse range of industries, including the food and drink sector.
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Said Rob Fisher, IMHX Event Director, "Our exhibitors are highly active in the food and drink manufacturing, wholesale and retail industries, so logistics professionals from this sector will benefit enormously from visiting the show. No other event can deliver so many relevant exhibits in one place at one time, plus there will be a informative series of complimentary seminars for visitors to attend."
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Cost-saving solutions for the food & drink sector
Noble Foods is a long-standing supplier of fresh eggs to major retailers and the company recently moved into the desserts sector, with the successful GÜ brand. The firm is now operating BT Levio LWE130 powered pallet trucks from Toyota Material Handling UK (20F70) for its fleet of lorries. Noble Foods' operation involves collection and delivery of eggs across the UK, with its lorries travelling long distances and employees both driving and handling the goods. With intensive operations, the equipment needed to reduce manual handling as well as being available at each stop throughout the shift. Noble Foods trialled a number of products from different suppliers before choosing the BT Levio with the option of on-board charging, which allows opportunity charging on the lorry whilst travelling from destination to destination. The gel battery fitted to the BT Levio works in line with the intelligent vehicle charging system to ensure the truck is only charged while the lorry is moving, giving highest priority to the lorry's battery during charging to guarantee no loss of power to the lorry itself. A fleet of 21 BT Levio pallet trucks is now in place and has already helped to improve health and safety for drivers and decrease costs from damaged goods.
An automated handling solution from CI Logistics (stand 19L146) including robotic systems has allowed Diageo, the world's leading premium drinks company, to reduce manual handling by 90% at its new £10 million cooperage in Cambus, Scotland. The facility has been constructed to produce 250,000 rejuvenated and rebuilt casks a year, prior to refilling with the company's famous whisky brands. A major objective was to reduce the manual handling of casks in order to improve safety. The solution supplied by CI Logistics synchronises, controls and delivers the various parts of the casks – including the marrying up of each bespoke cask with its own hoops and ends at the end of the line. The system includes two main floor conveyor lines, a power and free conveyor, robotic stations for charring – the exposure of the inside surfaces of the cask to flames, which affects the flavour and colour of the spirit aged in it – gravity roller sections with brake rollers to slow the cask down, hydraulic heading and hoop-driving machines and a semi-automatic turn and tilt machine. The automation has enabled Diageo to increase production by 25%.
Batteries and charging equipment from Hoppecke Industrial Batteries (stand 19K95) have helped leading FMCG supply chain operator, Fowler Welch, to achieve increased efficiency, substantial reductions in operating costs and lower carbon footprint at several of its warehouses. In a three-way partnership involving Fowler Welch, Hoppecke and forklift supplier, Linde Material Handling, the warehouses have been fitted with brand new and upgraded equipment as part of a massive expansion programme to provide Fowler Welch with greater capacity and the ability to turn orders around faster to meet continued growth. The Hoppecke solution was based around the trak® air traction energy systems – featuring electrolyte circulation and high frequency chargers which ensure rapid and gentle battery charging – which cut energy costs by up to 30 per cent and maximise the availability of forklift trucks and other handling equipment.
When leading ice-cream manufacturer, Fredericks Dairies, needed to expand its warehouse facility, the company sought an ecologically friendly, efficient and cost-effective logistics solution for its -28ºC environment that could store at least 13,000 pallets with 600 pallet movements per eight-hour shift. RediTechniX (20F82), a division of RediGroup, created a revolutionary automated solution by combining the patented RediLogX pallet buffer and sequencing system with ASRS technology. Using this system, the storage density of a warehouse can be increased by up to 90% compared to a VNA system, whilst reducing the annual running costs by a similar amount. RediTechniX integrated vertical/horizontal transporters, conveyors and shuttles within the RediRack welded system and combined this with WCS software that integrated directly into a Warehouse Management System, allowing for complete control from a single workstation.
Plastic Extruders Ltd (stand 19H123) – a leading supplier of tensional strapping, vinyl matting and flexible profile extruders – has supplied its Vynagrip matting to Alan Bartlett and Sons, a family-owned farm in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, which specialises in the large-scale supply of carrots and parsnips. Manufactured by the company in the UK, the matting has been laid along the production lines where pickers inspect the vegetables, as well as beside the cutting and packing machinery. Vynagrip was chosen by the farm for its anti-slip and anti-fatigue properties. The existing chequer-plate floor was not only slippery when wet but also uncomfortable for workers who spend long hours standing. Vynagrip's cushioning gives added underfoot comfort, its deeply etched surface makes it highly slip resistant and its PVC construction makes it resistant to oil, acid and chemicals. The open-grid design allows for liquid spills and production waste to fall through, further reducing the risk of slips and falls. The matting can be easily rolled up to facilitate cleaning and is simple to cut in order to fit around obstacles. Vynagrip is supplied in red, blue or black, with the black version being manufactured from 100% post-industrial recycled material and fully recyclable, making it a sustainable choice.
Transdek (stand 20D21), the award-winning lifting equipment specialist, recently designed, engineered and installed a unique loading solution for Manton Eggs, one of the UK's largest egg-processing companies. The project – which was managed by Transdek and installed and commissioned in just five days – included Transdek's unique V2G (vehicle to ground) lift and a bespoke warehouse extension to facilitate Manton's ongoing expansion. The V2G lift enables the firm to unload products from delivery vehicles to ground level more effectively at its flat-floor site.
Insulated container supplier Olivo (20B105) supplies a range of portable containers that have been developed over 50 years to provide safe and flexible transport of temperature-sensitive products. Using either eutectic plates or the Siber System® of injected carbon dioxide, the refrigeration is totally silent and emission-free. This meets the problems associated with deliveries of mixed products – frozen, chilled and ambient – in the same vehicles without recourse to complicated and costly multi-temperature vehicle refrigeration systems, which also require heavy and expensive movable bulkheads. An important aspect of the Siber System® is that the ‘dry ice' injection station computer automatically adjusts the injected amount of ‘dry ice' according to the specified operational parameters – ambient temperature profile, product temperature, number of hours, number of door openings and so on – thereby minimising operational costs.
The Jersey City (New Jersey, USA) distribution centre of juice manufacturer, Tropicana – part of PepsiCo's North America Beverages – is using an AGV system supplied by JBT Corporation (19J116) that has both improved efficiency and increased order accuracy. The fleet of seven counterbalanced, forked AGVs transport pallets of refrigerated finished goods, picking them up from 28 discharge conveyors and either transporting the pallets into trailers at the loading bays or moving the pallets to a temporary storage area. The AGVs use laser triangulation guidance, facilitating future changes to the layout. The vehicles are managed by the SGV Manager software which co-ordinates all communication to support vehicle operation. The AGVs typically operate for 16 hours per day, 5 days per week, but for longer periods during seasonal peaks. To maximize uptime, the AGVs can automatically change each other's batteries.
Packaging supplier, Woodway UK (stand 20A22), has created a new product to protect glass bottles in transit. Part of its dot-com packaging range, the design offers several unique features and works in conjunction with a standard shipping outer to offer protection from impacts in any axis. The product also eliminates the need for any other secondary packaging or void fill. Manufactured as a one-piece, die-cut blank, the fitting is a cost-effective alternative to conventional divider sets. Designed to fit within the footprint of a standard pallet measuring 1200mm in length, the packaging will typically generate a pallet quantity six times larger than when using conventional division sets, greatly reducing storage and transportation costs for the customer. The integral locking system ensures that the fitting stays rigid, allowing packed bottles to be stored until they are ready for despatch.
Operator of the Year competition returns at IMHX
RTITB's widely celebrated Operator of the Year competition is due to make an explosive return to the industry at IMHX 2013. After an initial round of online testing to find the best-performing operators from each region, the heats of what promises to be another exciting and hotly contested event will take place at the show. Over the four days of IMHX, operators from across the UK and Ireland will compete in a special arena designed to test their skills to the full, with the best operators being announced at the end of each day. The top competitors will then move forward in the competition to the Grand Final – to be held at RTITB's headquarters in Telford, Shropshire, in September 2013 – where they will have the chance to win a brand-new car. Commenting on the competition – which is being sponsored by Toyota Material Handling UK, TNT Express Services UK & Ireland and Calor Gas Ltd – RTITB's Operations Director, Laura Nelson, said, "Each year we have aimed to make the competition bigger and better than ever, which I believe we more than achieved in 2011. This year we really want to put the competition on the map and make it one of the most prestigious competitions in the UK's warehousing industry and we believe that by moving the second stage of the competition to IMHX we will be more than able to achieve this. Whilst the Operator of the Year competition acts as a strong message for the importance of safe and correct operation, we hope that it will also reiterate the invaluable benefits to employers of accredited training – for both operators and their business."
Special lounge for overseas visitors announced
Visitors from outside the UK who plan to attend next year's IMHX will – for the first time – be able to take advantage of an International Visitors' Lounge while at the show. Explained Rob Fisher, IMHX Event Director, "The International Lounge will be a place where visitors from outside the UK can relax in comfort or hold meetings with clients or suppliers. It will ensure that our overseas guests derive maximum benefit from their time at the show."
As IMHX has a truly international agenda, with exhibitors and visitors drawn from around the world, it is anticipated that companies belonging to member trade bodies of the International Federation of Warehousing and Logistics Associations (IFWLA) will be well represented at the show. John Maguire, Chairman of the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) – a leading IFWLA member – commented, "IMHX is a global event where logistics and supply chain professionals can see the latest products and services that impact on their business under one roof. As such it is certain to attract many visitors from overseas and the show organisers are keen to ensure that their visitor experience is as enjoyable and productive as possible. The International Lounge will be a place where international guests can take time out from the hectic pace of the show and meet up with colleagues from home and abroad."