MATERIAL FLOW Mechanized unloading of containers Unloading facilities for containers are complex systems that consist of various different components. Profile rails are an important functional component of these systems, since they are necessary for an effective mechanized unloading process. Copal Development, located in ’s- Heerenberg, Netherlands, develops and produces machines for unloading loosely stacked packages and sacks from containers. In the design and production of the systems, the manufacturer regularly relies on components and brands that are available worldwide. One example of such components are linear guides rails from Rollon, with headquarters in Vimercate, Italy. Rollon is a globally operating specialist in the development and manufacture of linear guide rails, telescoping rails and linear axes. These products are used in diverse industrial applications, such as the aviation industry, rail vehicles, automation systems and industrial machines. The company’s strength is the ability to offer both standard and custom solutions. Focus on market potential Every year, 200 million containers are shipped worldwide – 60 percent of these shipping containers have contents that are loosely stacked, instead of on pallets. That means that the goods generally have to be removed manually. On the potential market, here for unloading machines there is very little competition, according to Copal. However, mechanized unloading of containers requires the use of advanced technologies developed especially for this application. Because each container is loaded differently, the wholesale packaging has different formats and weights and also the shapes of the goods are different. With its machines, Copal targets primarily operators of large warehouses, which have to unload a considerable number of containers in a relatively short time. “When we entered the market, our first systems were developed and produced in the Netherlands. Those were already complex machines, which of course were prone to teething troubles,” explains Karel Hoogenboom, Managing Director of Copal Development. “Meanwhile these have been overcome, however, and we now also sell our systems outside of our domestic market. Currently we are in contact with additional customers and sales partners in Europe and North America.” Mechanized versus manual Up to 20 man-hours are needed to unload a container filled with boxes or sacks. Only one person is needed to operate the machines manufactured by Copal, which require on average about one hour to perform the same task. With a volume of 1,500 containers to be unloaded per year, that results in savings of up to two man-years. Mechanized unloading also offers advantages with respect to ergonomics. The unit 30 f+h Intralogistics 4/2015
TITEL I MATERIALFLUSS loads must be picked up both from the bottom of the container and from a height of up to 2.7 metres. The packaged goods are often heavy, which puts a high degree of physical strain on personnel during manual unloading. In addition, personnel can be exposed to residual gases that were added to the containers after loading in order to kill pests or preserve products. The manufacturer solved this problem by equipping the machines with a cabin that can be closed and pressurized. Another disadvantage of manual unloading is that the trailer on which the container is transported is parked for an extended period. In addition, there is potential for damage to the unit loads, which can lead to problems in the downstream process chain, such as during palletizing, or in the automated systems of a logistics centre. “The goal of our company is therefore to develop a completely mechanized solution for unloading containers for all goods that are not stacked on pallets,” explains Hoogenboom. Currently Copal Development produces two product lines, and a third is in preparation. The right gripper for every load The type C1 machine is a system for removing boxes from a container and palletizing 01 The gripper systems of the unloading machine are modular in design to facilitate their replacement them. The current machine version is equipped with two joysticks – one for controlling the removal process and the other for entering and leaving the container. For picking up the boxes, the machine features a modular gripper system (Image 01), which can be exchanged within ten minutes. Sensors on the gripper determine the distance to the boxes, to the sidewalls and the floor and ceiling of the container. This data is sent to the machine’s PLC. Hoogenboom: “A type of base plate in the load handling device serves as an interface on which all connections for hydraulics, pneumatics, electricity and control can be connected and disconnected, automatically and with no leaks.” The gripping system is provided with an identification code, so that the PLC automatically detects the gripper and adapts certain program parameters accordingly. Dif Always operational. Always reliable. In the oil and gas industries, especially innatural gas liquefaction plants, stringent requirements as to safety and technical performance demand intelligent solutions and state ofthe art safety mechanisms. STAHL CraneSystems as aleading international manufacturer of explosion-protected hoist and crane technology offers the broadest complete portfolio for these sectors. All around the world over 140 certified Partners of STAHL CraneSystems and crane and systems builders work to solve customers’ problems individually on site.