Modern Materials Handling
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IGHTEEN papers were presented at La the Third International Conference of The institute of Materials Handling held at Brighton this week (May 8-10). These naturally covered a very wide field, attention being focused on handling in industry, agriculture and the maritime trades.
This being National Productivity Year, it was to be expected that great interest would be shown in the conference. Since this is also the year of the "Turn That Lorry Round" campaign launched jointly by B.R.S. and the R.H.A., the transport industry's interest this year in speedier, more efficient handling is quite evident.
The use of pallets was described by H. Dijkmans van Gunst in his paper "Terminal handling as applied to food products ". Mr. van Gunst, a transport and cold store manager, referred to the system used by Iglo N.V., a Dutch quick frozen foods company. This firm has a finished products terminal which recently started operations in Utrecht: large stocks of some 200 different frozen foods are kept at this terminal which works on a palletization principle. Pallets are loaded in the factories, stored there and are then forwarded to the terminal, where pallets are also used to carry the products into the depots. Entire stocks are palletized to give sufficient quantities to cover peak demand, to permit through-transport on palletized vehicles and to speed vehicle turn-round.
It had been found, said Mr. van Gunst, that a maximum loaded pallet height of 5 ft. 6 in. was the most economical in transport. The store is 23 ft. high internally, so that it is possible to stack the pallets four high.
Complete reorganization of bottle handling methods from the receipt of empty bottles to the dispatch of unit loads had brought large increases in productivity at a Norwegian brewery, declared H. Wabeck Hansen in presenting his paper "Increased productivity through mechanical handling in a modern brewery ". Crates which had previously been handled individually by conveyors and hand trucks were now handled in unit loads and more mechanization had been introduced. Flexibility of the unit handling system had eliminated the problem of retaining buffer storage to cope with seasonal demands, he said. Improving distribution efficiency had been a matter largely of persuading azia customers to buy in unit loads and of increasing co-operation between transporter and transport user. Professional carriers on road, rail and sea must be able to produce the services that modern materials handling requires, the speaker asserted. Goods terminals today must be built in accordance with the principles of modern materials handling.
Mr. R. N. Lees, editor and general manager of Cargo Handling International, speaking on " Terminal handling in the rubber, synthetics and plastics industries ", was enthusiastic about a novel collapsible rubber drum container which had been developed by an American company for the shipment of latex from plantations in Malaya. When the latex was removed the drum collapsed and took up little space as a "returned empty ". With this type of container the cargo was in the form of small unit loads, could be handled by forklift, and could be transported immediately, if necessary on flat-bed trucks or in rail wagons direct to the user.
Mr. Lees predicted that much greater use would be made in the future of the transportation of slurries by pipeline. ,.Apart from siting advantages, a point in favour of pipelines was that the amount of ground needed for the reception terminal was extremely small.
Another case where an opportunity existed to save "loading bay" ground was in the discharge of powders by a pumping technique. An example given was the delivery of polyvinyl-chloride in the form of fine powder which was pumped into bulk bins at a plastics factory. Terminals, said the speaker, could be sited in the plant at the product end of a production line, especially if a " straight-through " philosophy embodying systems similar to " Rolamat" were used, where the product was palletized, moved by roller-conveyor floor to the loading bay, then on to a road vehicle having a roller-conveyor truck bed_
Mr. D. Freeman, an industrial consultant, addressing the conference on "Materials management of mixed commodities ", emphasized the importance of regarding materials management as an integrated whole rather than as a number of unrelated functions. By use of a working example he showed how integration of all warehouse functions proved advantageous,
Mr. Freeman stated that known methods of warehousing for the distribu
tion trade could be sub-divided into four broad categories. These were (a) the manual method; (b) mechanized and unit load method; (c) semi-automatic warehousing; and (d) fully-automatic warehousing. Of these methods (a) could be discarded completely, and (d) was seldom a business proposition.
Pallet Pool Problems
On the subject of "Materials handling in light engineering ", Prof. W. Daenzer, director of Federal Technical College, Zurich, also sang the praises of the pallet. The problem Jay in determining the dimensions of a pallet which corresponded in an optimal degree to the requirements of all the handling facilities and then to standardize that pallet. Referring to the Swiss Society for Studies of Efficient Materials Handling (SSRG) Prof. Daenzer said an interesting step in reducing costs and simplifying administration had been reached through an agreement in creating a pool of pallets. The purpose of this pool was to save the manufacturing companies the trouble of keeping an extensive book account on company-owned pallets and to prevent empty pallets being shipped to and fro. At the end of 1962 there were 2,700 participating members in this pool in Switzerland. The Swiss pallet now in general use measured 2 ft. 8 in, by 4 ft. It was considered that one of the first requirements of such a pallet was that it could be handled easily by fork truck. The maximum weight should therefore not exceed 1 ton. Investigations had shown that most goods could be handled effectively in this way.
The Swiss association of haulage firms occasionally made objections to the size of the pallet, Mr. Daenzer told the Conference. They claimed that this type of pallet would not lit the dimensions of the loading surface of trucks. A survey of the subject, however, had revealed thal of many makes of trucks no two had the same loading surface. Better utilization of the available loading surface could, therefore, not be reached by changing the dimensions of the pallet, but must be obtained by standardization of the truck loading surface.
In order to increase the range ol economical application of the pallet, a number of attachments had been designee such as sideboards and side-frames. These devices tended to transform the pallet into a sort of standardized container foi many purposes. By using these attachments, tiering of the loaded pallets ww made possible, without exerting an 'pressureupon goods in the lower pallets