AGV HANDLES REPETITIVE TASKS

The FlexiMate battery-operated vehicle executes a variety of logistical assignments. Its program memory stores up to 17 routing tracks. An optical guidance system follows routes marked on the floor with stainless steel foil, backed by adhesive tape. To change an assignment, operators change the marked routes or programmable controller. The vehicle hauls loads to 3,300 lb on all types of wheeled trolleys, pallets, containers and rolls. Vehicle speed is 2.5 km/hr. Battery life under average load is 15 hr. Size is 52.5 by 30 by 28 in. It weighs 300 lb, enabling it to turn in 28-in. circles. Worksmart Systems; www.worksmart.com, 978-536-5000.

ACCESSIBLE CONTAINERS

Hopper-front containers, for any application, are available in more than 1,000 standard sizes and more than 10 colors. Sizes range from 4 in. to 65 in. in length. They are available in basic plastic, heavy-duty plastic, ESD and fiberboard material. Capacities range from 25 to 150 lb. Flexcon Corp.; www.flexconcontainer.com, 973-467-3323.

A CASTER FOR ALL SEASONS

The Cartwash casters are available in 300 Series stainless steel. The material makes them resistant to moisture and chemicals in medium- and medium-to-heavy-duty applications. Capacities range from 200 to 900 lb. They are available in swivel and rigid configurations with 4-point universal plate mounting. Wheels are available in neoprene, rubber, polyolefin, thermo-plastic, rubber and other material. Wheel diameters range from 3.25 to 8 in. Darnell-Rose, www.casters.com, 800-327-6355.

EASY PRODUCT POSITIONING

These workstations integrated with a ball transfer system make it easier for operators to position product. The systems consist of a pattern of omnidirectional steel balls inside steel housings. The ball units let a product be rolled effortlessly in any direction. The system is also pneumatically actuated. Production Basics Inc., www.pbasics.com, 617-926-8100.

UTILITY CARTS

The ProCart functions as a flat-top and box-top cart. It moves cartons, loose components and mixed items in various applications. The hinged side gates flip into position and lock in place with one hand, converting the cart from a flat-top to a box-top cart. With the gates lowered, it exposes large flat shelves on two levels to easily slide boxes onto and off of warehouse shelves. The I-beam construction eliminates corner posts. The cart is rated at 400 lb, or roughly 200 lb per shelf. It glides on 5-in. non-marking wheels. Akro-Mils; www.akro-mils.com, 800-253-3467.

INTEGRATED PICK-TO-LIGHT

The Pick-to-Light Interface enhances the efficiency of static racks and shelving used in distribution applications. With this software, a computer sends the storage system an electronic pick list that activates the pick-to-light modules. A standard interface protocol directly links the modules with such host systems as WMS, LESA, ERP and with specific parts of the FastPic4 inventory management and control software. Multiple orders can be batched simultaneously. Picks are arranged in sequential order. The software runs on Windows 95, 98, NT and 2000, and supports any TCP/IP network. FastPic Systems, www.fastpicsystems.com, 800-897-8379.

PICKING IN TIGHT SPACES

The Micro-Pick pick-to-light system fits in small spaces. It measures 1-in. tall by 2-in. wide. It fits small parts picking, sort-to-light and other picking applications. It features a snap-in bus design and is available in three configurations: light only, light with a pushbutton, light with a two-digit display and pushbutton. Innovative Picking Technologies; ipti.net, 262-965-4774.

BETTER INVENTORY TRACKING

The PkMS 2002R1 increases the visibility of inventory throughout a supply chain, offers greater flexibility in categorizing and tracking inventory and helps streamline operations. A yard management function lets users expand inventory tracking beyond the four walls of a distribution center. Lot management lets users track inventory based on lot expiration date. SKU renumbering lets users change SKUs throughout thesystem. Manhattan Associates; www.manh.com, 770-955-7070.

CHANGE BELTS LESS OFTEN

Lineshaft extended-wear urethane drive belts cut required belt changes in half. For use on lineshaft roller conveyors made by Hytrol, Ermanco, Buschman, Rapistan and Matthews, the belts withstand breaking forces to 312 lb. They are made of 45D Shore Hardness, polyester-based polyurethane with a unique internal lubricant package. Shuttleworth Inc.; www.shuttleworth.com, 260-356-8500.

LIFT AND ROTATE

A little tweaking can produce the perfect tool. All it takes is for a vendor to go an extra step or two. The beneficiary of one tweak is Falk Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial-mechanical power transmission components in Milwaukee.

What operators at Falk needed was a device that could lift and simultaneously rotate a family of machined gear housings safely and efficiently so that assemblers could access the top and bottom of the housing while it was suspended. The solution was a modified rotating axis grab unit, Model M2038, an innovative lift, clamp and rotate device from Bushman Equipment Inc.

For the full story, go to www.totalsupplychain.com, MHM, Articles, Industry News, “Lift and Rotate.” Bushman Equipment; www.bushman.com, 800-338-7810.

CONVEYOR CONTROL

The ProSort Logix control package controls all 100 and 200 Series sliding shoe sorters and the ProSort SC Power Pivot Sorter. The touchscreen provides ease of operation, statistical information and diagnostics. Hytrol Conveyor Co. Inc.; www.hytrol.com, 870-974-5642.

ERGONOMIC POSITIONING

Battery-powered lift table raises, lowers and rotates work to the most ergonomically correct position. Guarded foot pedal controls on both sides of the table let employees raise or lower tables. All vertical moving mechanisms are enclosed with a heavy-duty bellows, protecting personnel against potential pinch points and eliminating debris from entering the unit. Pentalift Equipment Corp.; www.pentalift.com, 519-763-3625.

FLEXIBLE PIECE PICKING

This case- and piece-picking system handles applications that use fewer palletloads and more mixed cases of items. It can be installed in an existing footprint and is easily reconfigured. The MSS III modular storage system is a high-speed box buffer that automatically replenishes a digital pick-to-light flow rack. Items move from the flow rack along a conveyor to the Piece Sorter, which has multiple chutes for small orders. Warehouse Rx controls the system. SK Daifuku Corp.; www.skdaifuku.com, 801-359-9900.

IMPROVING DISTRIBUTION EFFICIENCY

Everyone wants to improve customer service and reduce operating costs. For State Service Systems Inc., a division of Beauty Alliance of Clearwater, Florida, to meet this goal, management needed to control packing material costs and documentation proliferation.

Corrugated boxes, tape and bubble wrap were draining the company’s operating budget. A key change was to eliminate the boxes and use plastic reusable distribution containers. The selection was Monoflo International’s DC2515-14 distribution container. The heavy-duty 100 percent Virgin HDPE plastic containers can endure harsh conditions. Their height enables them to hold taller products in an upright position. And the added width lets cases of product be dropped into the tote when “break-packing” isn’t necessary. The containers cube out on a 40 by 48 pallet for easy shipping.

Plus, a Tote Snaps feature secured the containers from tampering.

Returns are not a problem. The trucking firms found room on driver returns without sacrificing valuable floor space, making the return cost-free for State. Turnpike Transit, one of the preferred trucking partners, admits that the ease for drivers to load, unload and verify shipment accuracy far outweighs any costs involved in returning the totes.

The actual return on the investment was met in less than six months. The program reduced packaging costs by $130,000 and labor costs by $100,000 in the first year. For the full story, go to www.totalsupplychain.com, MHM, Articles, Industry News, “Improving Distribution Efficiency.” Monoflo International Inc.; 800-446-6693.

ROLLING ALONG

The 05 Series stainless steel casters are for heavy-duty service in harsh environments involving cleaning agents, steam or caustic solutions. Capacities range to 1,200 lb. Other choices include bearings and brakes, rigid-top plate or swivel models, and diameters of 4-, 5-, 6- and 8-in. with 2-in. tread widths. Albion Industries Inc., 517-629-9441.

DRIVE-IN/DRIVE-THROUGH

The Drive-In/Drive-Thru pallet rack system allows for floor-to-ceiling storage configurations. In reduces the number of conventional traffic aisles and increases number of units stored, while preserving floor space. Configurations can be first-in, last-out; front-to-back or back-to-back. Upright frames are made of 50,000 psi steel with a full-height stiffening rib. SpaceRak Div. of EWCO; www.spacerak.net, 586-364-7421.

LINKING PRINTING SYSTEMS

A software driver supports the SmartDate thermal transfer coder and the Cimjet label printer applicator. This driver lets the coder and the labeler be lined with other design packages. It lets operators use their existing label design software to download fixed images as a graphical logo. Markem Corp.; www.markem.com, 866-263-4644.

STACKER LETS OPERATORS SEE CLEARLY

The Swift model stacker is a light- to medium-duty walkie for applications requiring lift heights of 62.5 or 79 in. It has a single-mast design for better visibility of a load. It’s available with either a straddle or fork-over design. A high-pressure pump with a 1.0 kW wound motor provides hydraulic lifting and lowering power. Length is 67.3 in. Load capacity is 2,000 lb at a 23.6-in. load center. Multiton MIC Corp.; www.multiton.com, 804-737-7400.

GO MOBILE

RFBuilder lets users design, test and deploy wireless data collection applications for the Falcon portable, fixed-station and vehicle-mount data collection terminals. It helps extend existing business systems to mobile workers. Available in two versions, Express and Enterprise. Each includes a visual design environment for application development. PSC Inc.; www.pscnet.com, 800-695-5700.

INDEXING CONVEYORS

The PCF30 and PCF50 models are two conveyors for light part assembly. They help automate part transfer and load and unload procedures. Belt indexing is done by an air cylinder. They can be used in explosion-proof environments. Belt widths range from 150-, 200-, 300-, 400- and 500-mm sizes. Lengths are from 250 to 2,000 mm. ASG Div., Jergens Inc.; www.asg-jergens.com, 216-486-6163.

QUICK LIFT

Continuous vertical conveyors offer high-speed up-and-down service with up to 40 loads a minute. They reduce floor space needs by 90 percent. For operations that are automatic or require little supervision, the units accept a load horizontally, convey it vertically and discharge it horizontally in a continuous non-stop operation in a Z pattern. Operation can be single direction or reversible. Powered conveyors synchronized to the lift platform are designed for specific products. They are available in roller, belt or chain. Load capacities range from 5 to 4,000 lb and vertical travel to 80 ft. Chain speeds are to 120 fpm. TKF Inc.; www.tkf.com; 513-241-5910.

FOR LIGHT DUTY

Light-duty wire decking can store finished goods, work-in-progress and work area component parts in manufacturing and warehousing. The decking can be used with all boltless, bulk and Z-beam styles. It’s made of 4-gauge construction. Sandwich wires are placed evenly every 12 inches for extra support and rigidity. Powder-coat or galvanized finishes are available. ITC Manufacturing & Powder Coating; 800-567-6592.

CONNECT MULTIPLE NETWORKS

The FDN-DN1 Spanner module routes data between two PLCs using DeviceNet. It reduces the need for a high-level control network pyramid. The module appears to each PLC as a standard rack of I/O. InterlinkBT, www.interlinkbt.com, 888-546-5880.

CONTROLLED DESCENT

Vibrating Spiral Elevator has a controlled velocity descent trough to prevent damage to fragile parts entering the unit. Product fed from the top onto the deep-angled descent trough travels down, slowed by the upward action of the elevator. The bottom flights are either submerged in a solution for cleaning or in water for quenching applications.

High-density, low-angle ascent troughs elevate the material and provide long retention times for drying as product emerges from the bath. The elevator features include stainless steel flights, waterproof TENV vibrating motors with adjustable eccentric weights for retention control, adjustable attack angles and corrosion-resistant, heavy-duty rubber isolation springs. Carman Industries Inc.; www.carmanindustries.com, 800-456-7560.

PICK YOUR SPEED

Sortation Induction conveyor, with heavy-duty components, offers a variety of speeds. It operates as an integrated system with manufacturer’s other sortation products. Ermanco; www.ermanco.com, 231-798-4547.

PALLET STACKING

The AccuStack palletload stacker is for automatic inline stacking of full or partial palletloads. The unit can be installed downstream of a palletizer. It has tubular steel frame construction, which lets palletloads pass through or be lifted and held for later stacking. The unit has a one-minute stacking cycle, 3,500-lb maximum load lift, and four-corner chain lift. It can be fitted into existing conveyor systems. Alvey Systems, FKI Logistex; alvey.com.

Know When To Replace Doors

At the Tower Automotive plant, Milwaukee, managers were faced with the choice of continual repairs for their exterior doors or buying new doors.

Twenty exterior doors, made of heavy wood panels, served the plant’s eight buildings where metal presses form steel frames for trucks. During Wisconsin’s harsh winters, the doors provide a thermal barrier keeping heat inside. But the old doors broke down frequently, with problems on every shift.

The slow opening speed of the doors led to damage from passing lift trucks, and downtime affected productivity. A 26-week maintenance history on one of the worst doors, however, proved to management that a new roll-up door would pay for itself within its first year. Speed alone reduced collisions.

The plant replaced 13 of the more troublesome doors with Rytec high-speed doors. Productivity increased as idle time and maintenance costs decreased. Rytec Corp.; www.rytecdoors.com.

PICKING CONTROL

The Operator Control Console (OCC), for a line of vertical carousels, places all operational controls at an operator’s fingertips. The operator can turn the machine on, raise or lower the electric door, turn on or off the overhead fluorescent light or monitor control features. The unit has a 2-line, 20-character, alphanumeric display, which can display a part number, bin location and quantity of computer-generated picks. Kardex Systems Inc.; www.kardex. com, 800-234-3654.

FOLDING TRUCK

Mini Mover Folding Truck is a lightweight aluminum/plastic composite construction (7.25 lb) that offers easy operation and quick setup and collapse. With the push of a button, the frame extends and the noseplate and wheels move into position. Elastic straps safely secure loads. Fully extended with telescoping handle, the unit measures 41 in. by 15.5 in. by 17.5 in. Load capacity is 110 lb. Wesco Industrial Products Inc.; wescomfg.com, 215-699-7031.