At a special invitation-only event near Düsseldorf, Germany, visitors witnessed the latest innovative robotics solutions for materials handling in action. Designed to offer customers affordable automation for repetitive tasks, the recently-announced robotics portfolio from Yale Europe Materials Handling was put through its paces at ‘This is Yale’ in front of dealers, customers, prospects, and members of the press.
This is Yale® featured a full roster of zones that showcased tailored Yale solutions for a variety of industries. Among the simulations and live demonstrations that took place, the application of Yale robotic solutions was a key talking point with the new robotic trucks featuring in the Automotive and Supply Chain Solutions zones.
“Having the opportunity to present our robotics solutions at This is Yale has been an exciting moment for everyone involved,” said Ron Farr, Warehouse Solutions Manager for Yale. “As the Industry 4.0 trend continues, our robotics range can open the door to more flexible, affordable solutions that don’t require the installation of a physical infrastructure to support navigation which can be time consuming, costly to install, and disruptive to the operation.”
Automation in the Automotive zone
Staged as an automotive supermarket, visitors to the Automotive zone saw the new Yale robotic tow tractor take part in a dynamic demonstration highlighting its ability to support lineside production and logistics ‘milk run’ loops. Capable of towing several trailers at a time, the robotic tow tractor can deliver new kits to line operators while collecting empty containers simultaneously, ensuring production lines are fed ‘just-in-time’ and ‘just-in-sequence’ and helping businesses boost productivity.
Yale industry experts presented the industry-leading Balyo geoguidance navigation technology at the heart of the solution, explaining how it sets Yale robotic trucks aside from traditional automated guided vehicles.
“After the initial mapping, the Yale MO50-70T robotic tow tractors can operate autonomously, there’s no need to bury wires in the floor or mount reflectors on the wall. Once it’s received its instruction, the robotic tow tractor can self-locate and navigate to its first destination. It can carry components needed to feed the production line and deliver them to the correct line-side point,” said Tracy Brooks, Industry Solutions Group Manager at Yale.
Visitors discovered the ease of the truck’s dual mode capability, as it was returned to manual mode at the touch of the tiller to carry out a task outside its programmed parameters, before being returned to robotic mode to continue its assigned jobs.
Both dealers and customers were impressed by the the advanced obstacle-detection system, controlling the tow tractor’s speed to slow down and stop for obstructions. The tow tractor is capable of anticipating and reacting to its immediate environment in real-time, enabling it to obey traffic rules, such as stopping at junctions with stop signs.
MC15 stars in Supply Chain Solution zone
Exploring a pallet’s journey from container to customer, the Yale MC15 robotic counterbalance stacker driven by Balyo technology played a key role in the Supply Chain Solutions zone. Visitors were shown the ease of industry-leading Balyo geoguidance navigation, where the truck uses the same sensors to map the facility that it uses to navigate it, and discovered how the technology enables the robotic truck to be up and running without the need for dedicated navigation infrastructure.
Part of the Yale MC10-15 robotics range, the robotic counterbalance stacker is capable of both horizontal transport and vertical lifting, making it ideally suited to warehouse applications. The truck’s ability to lift and lower loads means it can autonomously deposit and retrieve pallets from racking with ease. Suitable for a wide variety of repetitive jobs including transferring pallets to conveyor lines, loading and unloading in cross-docking applications and stacking loads in elevated spaces, the truck can help free up the existing workforce for higher-value tasks.
With no dedicated infrastructure required, visitors learnt how the robotic counterbalance stackers operate autonomously without the need for any wires, magnets or reflectors. This reduces the cost of installation and virtually eliminates ongoing structural maintenance.
“There was a great deal of interest from our guests in our robotics solutions at This is Yale,” concludes Ron. “The automated trucks can integrate with a wide variety of materials handling applications, particularly for customers looking to enhance productivity in their supply chain and logistics milk runs. We hope our customers and prospects enjoyed seeing the robotic trucks up close and at work, and now have a greater understanding of how automation can bring value and meet their logistics needs.”
The full range of Yale robotic solutions is now available to order. Visit www.yale.com for more information.
Mora Moravia, part of the Gorenje Group, is located in the beautiful surroundings of Hlubočky and Mariánské Údolí near Olomouce, Czech Republic. Due to changes in production, the company needed to streamline its warehouse processes. Not only was it necessary to expand and modernise the warehouse, but the company also needed to acquire new materials handling equipment.
Mora Moravia has a history that dates back to 1825 and began with the building of an ironworks and iron smelting factory in 1827. The first household product, a sewing machine, was produced in 1873 and in 1902 the patented production of Meteor solid fuel stoves was introduced. Production has been steadily increasing since 1908 with the introduction of larger appliances, such as confectionary ovens and meat smokers. The first household gas appliances to bear the Mora name were manufactured in 1919 and with this the company gradually started producing cookers and other products.
More recently, several important production projects have been moved to the Gorenje Group. “We are going through a change of production and we are introducing a new generation of products. We decided on a comprehensive solution which did not focus solely on engineering technology and production related issues, but also on warehousing and logistics,” says Tomas Dohnal, Head of the Investment Department for Mora Moravia.
New generation of cookers, new logistics solution
In July 2015, it was agreed that the company would produce its sixth generation of cookers. “It was decided that it would be the most extensive product change in the last quarter of a century,” says Tomas.
One of the necessary components of the project was the reconstruction and expansion of the original warehouse. Yale CZ was selected by Mora Moravia to supply the materials handling equipment and racking systems, in cooperation with Dexion. An inductive line was installed and a Yale® MTC13 LWB very narrow aisle (VNA) truck was supplied to the new storage facility.
In addition to the VNA truck, eight Yale ERP16VT electric forklifts were delivered to Mora Moravia for use on their new assembly lines, as well as two Yale MS16 pedestrian stackers for picking additional production components. “These machines are among the best you can find on the market. We are delighted to have received positive feedback not only from the management of the company, but also from the drivers themselves,” says Ivan Musil, managing director of Yale CZ.
Defining exact requirements
Yale CZ was selected by Mora Moravia as a partner for discussions and information gathering. “We had conducted our own product research, but we wanted a solution that would be efficient and affordable. We needed feedback and evaluation in order to choose the best options for us. In consultation with Yale CZ, we specified what we wanted," recalls Tomas.
Thereafter, the terms of the selection procedure were defined. “The offer from Yale CZ was the most advantageous," says Tomas.
New storage system eliminates time inefficiency
“In practice, our initial expectations were realised. The warehouse system is hassle-free and fully compliant. The new materials handling equipment and racking system have contributed to the efficiency of our logistics process and the newly modernised warehouse operates as a central hub. Originally, we had several warehouses that were farther away from the production line, which had an impact on logistics operations times. The production belt must be supplied several times per hour, and any time lost, albeit minimal, accumulates in the total. The new storage system has enabled us to eliminate unnecessary waste times," says Tomas.
Zero emissions, quiet operation
“We dealt with various technical specifications and variants. Supply of the production lines is now by electric trucks, whereas previously they largely utilised forklifts with internal combustion engines. Employees of the company appreciate that the electric trucks have absolutely no direct emissions and are not noisy,” adds Jaromír Dostál, Senior Adviser from Yale CZ.
Operators of the forklifts also appreciate the fact that the trucks are responsive, easy to handle, and have a smaller turning radius, so drivers have more space for moving pallets. “Mora Moravia is a very important reference for us in the Moravian region, so we are delighted that our customer is satisfied with their delivery,” says Jaromír.
For further information on the range of materials handling equipment from Yale visit www.yale.com.
When running a demanding operation that requires efficiency and speed to meet customer expectations, having a trusted partner who understands the specific needs of your business is key to success. As the materials handling equipment supplier to Stelrad for over 15 years, Yale sub-dealer, Forkway, is best placed to advise and guide the company on the most efficient operation in their warehouse and distribution centre.
As the UK’s largest manufacturer of radiators, Stelrad handles 50,000 customer deliveries per year from its South Yorkshire distribution centre. To maintain its industry-leading 99% ‘Customer On-Time Delivery’ status, the company requires a reliable solution to maintain productivity levels. When Stelrad recently expanded its National Distribution Centre and required a new materials handling equipment solution, it turned to Yale sub-dealer, Forkway.
“Forkway is our sole supplier for materials handling equipment and has played a significant role in the development of our warehousing and distribution operation,” said Paul Schofield, Warehouse and Distribution Manager for Stelrad. “At Stelrad, we have specific needs that require the supply of equipment across a wide range of types.”
The Client: Stelrad
Stelrad, part of the Ideal Stelrad Group, produces over 2.5 million radiators a year for the UK market. The company’s 17-acre National Distribution Centre is ideally located near to the M1 motorway for smooth distribution to customers across the UK.
The National Distribution Centre was originally built in 2003 to process and handle the radiator stock as it went out for delivery. Thanks to the steady growth of the company, there was a need to extend the distribution centre to meet growing demand. An additional 10,000 square feet full height warehouse extension expanded the site to 160,000 square feet, which can now house 17,000 pallet locations and racking up to 11m in height.
To ensure the premises were fully maximised to maintain productivity levels and the customer delivery success rate of Stelrad, a new materials handling solution was required. “For us to achieve our goals, the equipment needs to be running throughout the 24-hour shift period,” said Paul.
Yale improves driver productivity
After an initial consultation period to understand Stelrad’s new requirements, Forkway proposed an extensive and customised solution throughout the distribution centre to minimise delays in handling and despatching stock.
Six heavy-duty Yale® MR20HD Reach Trucks were delivered to the Mexborough site, offering Stelrad higher travel, and lift and lower speeds. The operator’s wellbeing is at the heart of the ergonomics of the MR Series, with ease of access provided by a low, wide step, integrated grab handles and an adjustable steering wheel position to maintain operator comfort throughout the whole shift. Push button 360° steering provides greater driving control. Forkway recommended that the Yale MR20HD units included the optional Pedestrian Awareness Lights to help pedestrians working around the trucks. Stelrad has already noticed an improvement in driver productivity, with the monitors and HD cameras at the top of the 11m beam allowing precise pallet handling for the operator.
To cope with the various pallet sizes handled in the National Distribution centre, a bespoke fleet of 18 Yale MP20X series platform pallet trucks were fitted with longer forks and repositioned load wheels, minimising damage during pickup and transportation.
Expanding the solution from distribution to manufacturing
Having found a suitable solution for Stelrad’s National Distribution Centre, thoughts then turned to how to maximise productivity on the production line in the manufacturing facility. Forkway recommended the Yale GLP18VX Veracitor to lift radiator fins onto the production line, alongside three Yale MP20X platform pallet trucks to transport finished goods to the packaging machine, ready for dispatch to the distribution hub. The Yale solution provides Stelrad a seamless operation from beginning to end.
Close ties minimise fleet downtime
To enable Stelrad to maintain its fast delivery times to its customers, downtime of the fleet needs to be kept to a minimum, something Forkway understands due to the longevity of their working relationship. A knowledgeable service team working in perfect synergy with the team at Stelrad keeps the business on track.
“All service and breakdown tasks are undertaken by service technicians who have been coming to the site for many years and have an in-depth knowledge of the trucks and a great relationship with the operators, meaning that unplanned downtime is kept to a bare minimum. All service correspondence and calls are handled locally rather than through a national call centre that would have little or no real knowledge of our operation,” added Paul.
“The service team has initiated a tailored materials handling equipment service programme that demonstrates their total understanding of our operational requirements. I have always been impressed with Forkway’s consultative approach of looking at our operational requirements and proposing solutions tailored to suit our needs,” added Paul.