As a leader in the manufacture and distribution of PC printers, facsimiles and accessories, this company is continually striving to upgrade all facets of its operation. A good example of this can be seen at the company's administrative and operations complex which also serves as headquarters. Today the facility features a streamlined order-flow system that efficiently moves product from the production area through to the shipping dock. Orders are processed at an efficiency level not achieved prior to the new conveyor system installation.
The new installation is helping the company position itself for both today and tomorrow.
Manual Order Processing
The old system was a largely manual operation with a limited amount of conveyorization in place. Operators had to do an excessive amount of walking and handling to build the pallets by hand. On occasion, there were major backups and bottlenecks that needed to be addressed.
The company knew that to support a growing business it needed to upgrade its order-flow capabilities. Specifically, it needed a higher efficiency, more ergonomically friendly operation, and the capacity to accommodate both current demand and future growth. The company met these objectives with an integrated conveyor system featuring Hytrol conveyor equipment. The Hytrol Integration Partner performed the systems integration including the computer controls.
Integrated and Efficient
The installation seamlessly integrates multiple conveyor types in a streamlined order flow. Cases of computer printers and fax machines move from the production area to the distribution center on live roller conveyors. They are inducted onto a re-circulation loop comprised of horizontal accumulating and belt conveyor segments. The accumulating conveyor (Model 190-ABEZ) includes Hytrol's exclusive EZ Logic feature. EZ Logic effectively controls the release of product from zone to zone, preventing back-ups and related problems.
"EZ Logic has done what we hoped it would do after making a couple of adjustments early on, we have been able to virtually eliminate any jamming in this area."
Belt-driven (SC) sorters divert the cases from the re-circulation loop down one of four lanes where the pallet loads are built. (Cases not read properly or being held for line changes remain on the loop.) The cases move off the re-circulation loop and down a belt conveyor that leads to a short gravity segment.
Operators take the cases off the gravity conveyor and proceed to build pallet loads on an adjacent drag chain conveyor. This model (DC-60) is specifically designed to handle pallets safely and efficiently. Equipped with the special accumulation module, the conveyor allows the pallets to accumulate with "zero-back pressure." This greatly reduces the possibility of collision that could result in product damage.
The completed pallet loads move off the drag chain conveyor onto a chain-driven roller conveyor (Model 25-CRR). This unit transfers the pallets to the main line — a chain-driven accumulation conveyor — that leads to the stretch wrapping stations. There are two automated stretch wrappers: a primary and an auxiliary wrapper.
Once the pallets are stretched wrapped, they are released onto gravity conveyors. Forklifts then transport the completed orders to the shipment-staging area or to storage. Product shipped from this facility serves customers in the eastern half of the United States.
Ready For The Future
For an installation with as many different conveyor types, the operation is actually quite simple and straightforward. It's also ergonomically sound, minimizing the amount of lifting and movement required of the operators.
The facility is forward looking as well. While today it is efficiently handling an order volume of approximately 2,000 cases a day, the design approach provides for easy expansion should future business needs dictate.
"We could easily and cost-effectively expand the system by extending the re-circulation loop and adding two more lanes for pallet building." By doing this, the system could handle an estimated 25 percent increase in order volume.