Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Supply Chain Warehousing Demands Modern Materials Handling Systems to Optimise Freight Throughput

Fork Lift Truck Group Offer an Evolved Package for Automating Logistics
Shipping News Feature
EUROPE – Hyster is a name well known in materials handling and supply chain circles, particularly for its fork lift trucks, unsurprisingly as it will have been around for nine decades by next year. Nowadays part of the Hyster-Yale Group, the European arm has been looking at the changing face of warehousing, and ways to manage and move freight around in a busy, and competitive, logistics environment.

Automated and autonomous systems are proliferating throughout the industry and Hyster has been seeking a bespoke set of solutions that can be adapted to a wide range of customer situations as Paul Smith, Manager, Integrated Solutions, for Hyster Europe, explains:

“By working closely with our customers and our dealers, we identified a demand for a new and different approach to automation. We found that the costly automation solutions usually seen in the logistics sector are implemented on a large-scale, but fail to meet the needs for recurring, but intermittent, automated tasks.”

The solution the company came up with was developed with leading automation technology specialists and addresses these challenges with an affordable, truck-based approach. Currently available on selected Hyster tow tractors, pedestrian counterbalance lift trucks, and low-level order pickers, the Hyster solution enables applications to benefit from the inherent quality and reliability of the trucks, alongside cutting-edge automation technology.

This type of approach, rather than requiring complex changes to enable automated logistics, maps the environment using natural features in the building. This means that the truck’s automated tasks can be easily adapted if the site infrastructure changes. In addition, this method allows the truck to be used as a fully automated unit for repetitive tasks, or as a supportive, partly-automated machine, for activities such as order picking. The automated system can even be switched off completely so the truck can be used by an operator as normal.

Hyster claim their solution, instead of offering a set package of technologies is completely customisable. Consultations between the dealer and the client identifies all the operational challenges after which experts from Hyster Europe then conduct simulations and create the right solutions, so that the customer can easily develop and present a business case. The Hyster solution can then be implemented without the need for complex integrations with software and warehouse management systems.

Once the ‘robotised’ solutions are in place, support, service and maintenance is available not only from Hyster Europe and its expert automation partners, but also from its local distribution partners. The company has evolved a range of power options across its mobile equipment to enable selection of the most suitable choice. For example, alongside IC power options and lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries are now available on many Hyster warehouse trucks and lift trucks, such as the J1.6XN Electric Counterbalance lift truck whilst lithium-ion batteries are becoming popular as they allow applications to streamline their energy requirements.

A lithium-ion battery can offer savings of up to 30% in energy costs compared to a lead-acid battery and produces zero emissions. Due to fast charging speeds and the possibility for opportunity charging, plus up to three times the life of a lead-acid battery, lithium-ion batteries support efficiency in logistics operations and are particularly well suited for extended or multi-shift operations. However, they are not for everyone, and lead-acid batteries will still best suit the needs of certain applications.

Hyster Europe has also previously revealed that a zero-emission electric laden container handling truck is in development. The first electric Hyster Big Truck, which is powered by a lithium-ion battery and electric motors, is currently entering the test phase. Once fully developed, Hyster Europe aims to offer the truck with a choice of power options that utilise lithium-ion batteries alongside fuel cells, meeting the needs of logistics operations which require zero-emissions trucks that also meet their demanding application needs.

As well as a range of different power options, Hyster Europe also provides an array of battery management solutions for several of its J-series electric trucks up to 3.5 tonnes. With the option to use a side battery exchange stacker, forklift, overhead crane, fork lifting eyes or roller beds, there are now five ways to exchange the battery on a Hyster electric truck. In fact, with the side battery extraction option, exchange can be completed in just a few minutes, saving time and improving efficiency while making the task easier for operators.

At the heart of a modern warehouse, automated or otherwise, lies a data management approach and in order to keep operations running smoothly in industry, 4.0, smart logistics applications are increasingly looking to connect their lift truck fleets. With the Hyster Tracker telematics solution, the company supports operations in collecting data, from daily service checks to utilisation analysis.

Hyster Tracker can be added to a variety of materials handling equipment and container handling trucks to provide proactive maintenance alerts, which can be helpful when managing large fleets and hundreds of operators in logistics applications. Hour meter, cost of operation, periodic maintenance, fault codes and impacts can all be tracked with automatic emails generated when certain faults or impacts occur, making it easier to record and review incidents and related product damage. GPS tracking data also helps identify areas within an operation that may present a higher probability of incidents, such as congestion-prone areas.

Hyster Tracker can also work with RFID cards so that specific equipment is used only by authorised or appropriately trained operators. To drive down fuel or power costs, the idle shutdown function can also be set to power off a truck after a pre-determined amount of time if the equipment is tracked as idle or unattended. Operator Pre-shift Checklist Tracking can also help determine any issues with a truck, so they can be addressed and resolved quickly to reduce expenses and potential downtime.

All data collected by the Hyster Tracker system is stored on a secure online portal, HysterTracker.com. Easily accessed, the portal provides clear, customisable reporting with quick visibility of key metrics. Paul Smith concludes:

“Technology and innovation built around understanding the needs of logistics operations is just one example of the 360 degree Hyster offering, with intelligently designed, reliable trucks and knowledgeable local dealers offering full service and support, customers can benefit from an end to end solution at every stage of the supply chain. Our approach is all about supporting the customer throughout the whole process to create the right solution adapted to their current business and application, as well as where the business may be heading in the future.”