The Flat Floor Trailerskate Dock flexible loading system is a collaboration between loading specialist, Joloda, Pepsico, logistics provider, Kuhne + Nagel, SICK and truck manufacturer Heiwo.
42 pallets onto a truck
The company previously used manned forklift trucks to load its trailers with boxes of chips, but now, the Joloda loading system pushes 42 pallets into an extra-long truck in one fully automated operation.
“Normal trailers and extra-long trucks are constantly being loaded and unloaded here. They are used for the shuttle to the Kühne + Nagel warehouse in Utrecht,” said Wouter Satijn, sales director, Joloda Group.
“The driver just has to connect his Eurocombi to the loading bay control system, and the loading system does the rest.”
The extra-long trucks (also known as Eurocombis) have a 21.5m load bed – big enough for 42 pallets.
In the warehouse everything is geared towards ‘just-in-time’ processing: The automated palletizer system ensures individual boxes are placed in perfect alignment on the pallets. Each pallet is then taken to the Joloda automatic dock.
“The pallets are arranged in three groups: 16 pallets, then 10, then 16 on the Trailerskate conveyor,” added Satijn.
DT500 long range sensors
When the roller gate on the auto dock opens, two bracket-mounted SICK DT500 long range distance sensors come down. They measure the depth of the trailer and check it is correctly equipped.
“Distance measurement is crucial, because normal 13.6 m trailers are loaded and unloaded here as well as the extra-long Eurocombis: It is important to Kühne + Nagel to be able to decide at the last moment whether whatever trailer is nearby should collect a load from Broek op Langedijk,” said Satijn.
“If the SICK sensors detect a depth of 13.6 m, then 16 plus 10 pallets can be loaded into the vehicle. If they detect a depth of 25.5 m, the system pushes all 42 pallets into the loading tunnel of the Eurocombi.”
The actual loading of the trailer uses risor plate technology developed by Joloda.
“The stationary auto dock and the trailer each have a system with compressed air hoses under the rails,” said Satijn.
“While there is no air in the hoses, the rails lie slightly lower than floor level. Then, when compressed air is introduced, the risor plates rise to floor level. On the rails there are long “skates” on which the pallets lie.
“The compressed air makes the pallets float a few centimeters above the conveyor and allows them be moved into the truck. Once the pallets have reached the correct position in the trailer, the pressure in the hoses is dropped and the rails sink back below floor level.”
Four SICK PBS pressure sensors monitor the pressure while the pallets are being lifted as well as the reduction in pressure.
“This ensures the skates are not retracted until the system is no longer pressurized,” added Satijn.
The automated loading system saves a large amount of space in comparison to the use of manned forklift trucks. This space is now used for other purposes. It also improves safety at work and personal protection.