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The Kaybe unit of CI Logistics has designed a system to transport moulded totes by pallet around Linpac Allibert’s consolidated plastic returnable packaging operations in Winsford, Cheshire.

Linpac Allibert, the materials handling division of the Linpac Group, manufactures a range of products and services for returnable packaging and equipment in the retail and industrial end-user sectors.

Last year, it consolidated its plastic returnable packaging operations in the UK at its Winsford site, creating a manufacturing and supply-chain centre of excellence.

More than 3,000 product lines of moulded plastic totes are manufactured at the site.

Final assembly of the totes was previously carried out in the same building as the manufacturing facility, but at the end of last year the company built a dedicated assembly hall and a warehouse and distribution centre.

CI Logistics’s system transports the moulded totes around the two floors of the assembly hall and then into the warehouse next door.

According to the company, this is a complex operation as there can be up to 42 different product lines passing through the assembly hall at any one time.

The newly manufactured totes arrive by conveyor onto the mezzanine floor where some light assembly takes place.

There is also a facility to store up to 700 pallets in this area.

The main assembly area is on the ground floor, where there are five separate subassembly stations.

Neil Chaplain, head of operations for Linpac Allibert, said: ‘We have a limited amount of space in the assembly hall and so a bespoke solution was required to enable the efficient throughput of the totes.

‘These need to be transported in a confined route around the assembly stations and into the warehouse – two areas that are a long way from each other.

‘We selected CI Logistics because it demonstrated its engineering expertise by interpreting the brief in a unique way.

‘It worked closely with us to ensure that we have the most efficient and cost-effective solution, supplying us with 12 different design drawings to meet the dynamic nature of our operation,’ he added.

CI Logistics has designed, manufactured and installed a specialist handling system, making use of a vertical elevator, shuttle cars, chain driven powered roller conveyors and chain transfer devices.

To maximise the available space, the pallet elevator – with dual controls – is located in the corner of the mezzanine.

Tote requests are received from each of the five subassembly areas downstairs and are fulfilled by the press of a button on the mezzanine floor.

Once the pallet of totes reaches ground level, it is transferred onto a single-bed shuttle car.

This delivers the pallet to the correct subassembly area or, if required, bypasses the assembly stations taking the pallet to a pivoting transfer device that sends it via a second shuttle car directly through to the warehouse.

Once the subassembly operations have been completed, the finished totes are stacked on empty pallets at the rear of the assembly areas.

These pallets are replenished by a powered roller conveyor from an automated pallet dispenser.

The full pallets are sent by transfer device via the conveyor to the second shuttle car for their onward journey into the warehouse.

This shuttle car operates with a special triple-bed system, enabling it to transport three loaded pallets of finished totes through the covered tunnel to the warehouse.

Inside the warehouse, the totes continue on a powered conveyor through a stretch-wrapping machine and then into storage.

In addition to manufacturing the materials handling scheme, the in-house team at CI Logistics also provided the control system for the solution.

Chaplain said: ‘Using one UK-based supplier for both the hardware and software was an additional benefit, facilitating the smooth installation and commissioning of the system.

‘The controls are particularly important to ensure that the shuttle cars move swiftly, brake accurately and stop precisely.

‘The innovative use of shuttle cars in the system has eliminated the need to install more complex transfer devices.

‘It is a fully integrated installation that delivers the right products to the right area exactly when required,’ he added.

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