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Conveyor system is bridging gap between production and shipping
Costo installed a double overhead conveyor at a height of 5 meters at digital printer Printforce, a partner company of CB. The conveyor itself consists of two roller conveyors located one above the other for a higher throughput. The roller conveyors ensure both the supply to and removal from a sorting and sealing area. In addition, Costo supplied two elevators and a spiral conveyor to bridge the level differences between the flow of goods. The project is part of a complete system that bridges the gap between logistics and production.
Logistic services provider CB has primarily built a reputation for storing and distributing books in the Netherlands. In order to better serve their customers, the company wanted a better alignment of the (on-demand) production and the distribution of books. The company decided to take a share in digital printer Printforce. This company then moved in 2018 from Alphen aan de Rijn to Culemborg so it became possible to merge distribution from stock and stockless on-demand production. There is now a new 7,000 m2 space with modern machinery in Culemborg. The print-on-demand offering is ideal for smaller runs and reprints.
Willy van Vliet, Senior Logistics Engineer at CB, explains: “We have already been working with Printforce since 2012. By intensifying the cooperation with Printforce, print-on-demand services and logistics are now better aligned. We can now offer the customer even more printing options at a lower price and an even faster delivery. Before the construction of the new print factory in Culemborg, we also had to think about a transportation system between production and logistics, due to the desired disconnection between the two departments."
Simply put, the solution had to meet the following requirements:
- Working more ergonomically
- The process should occupy a smaller flooring area / space saving
- Decoupling production - logistics; the result should lead to efficiency gains which can be realized in the second part of the process
The new process
From the production area, the products are placed in blue synthetic trays (up to 30 items per tray), after which an elevator lifts the tray to the level above and places it on a roller conveyor.
Three groups of product can be distinguished:
- The books
- Journals or scientific publications; the initial runs
- Journals, the repeat orders (normally smaller runs)
A visual system with cards shows which product group is in the tray. The trays are transported to the so-called "wrapping & dispatch" section. The products are removed from the tray and then sorted, scanned and sealed. Depending on the type of product, address labels are applied onto or within the transparent wrapping. Orders are eventually consolidated along the sorter, after which the products are transported via a spiral conveyor to the ready-to-send zone below the sorting area. The (automatic) sorting and sealing takes place on a mezzanine floor, delivered by Dexion. In the past, sorting and sealing was mostly a manual activity and required lots of walking back and forth.
The sorter has an administrative reception functionality. When the products get scanned on the sorter, CB knows exactly what was supplied from production and can provide feedback if necessary. Any shortages can be dealt with quickly.
Orders are prepared for different carriers in the shipping zone. CB works with several (international) carriers to ship as efficiently and sustainably as possible.
An infeed has also been created to the overhead conveyor to be able to add items to the order from the storage area. A separate elevator was installed for this purpose to lift the products from the ground floor level to the conveyor line. Moreover, the conveyor also has a buffer function, so that the work load can be dosed better.
The process described above refers to the detailed distribution. There is a parallel flow for processing large, bulky orders. This process handles primarily palletized goods.
Van Vliet continues: “The new set-up combines the printing expertise of Printforce and the logistics experience of CB very nicely. Because we moved the logistics out of the way, Printforce only has to put the produced units on the conveyor and from there we take over. The new solution not only takes up minimal space, but also yields a satisfying output. Costo was a logical choice for us: they are capable of producing components themselves, they know how to integrate the best solutions and also offer all of this at a fair price. It is nice that they think along with us and often come up with better alternatives. ”After a reference visit to a similar solution, the order was given to the company from Gorinchem.
The conveyor bridges a distance of 60 meters at a height of 5 meters. The total processing area occupies 600 m2 on the ground floor; the same number of square meters are located above the processing area, where the sorting and sealing takes place. Finally, 300 m2 is needed for the ready-to-ship product. Production is continuous: 24/7 in 3 shifts with an average of 5 people.
The capacity on the sorter is 1500 books (or journals) per hour. In other words, the line can process up to 50 trays per hour.
The Costo system was recently installed and the entire process will be fully operational in April 2019.
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