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Automatic handling system and its application


In the automatic storage, automatic picking and automatic packaging technology has been more and more applications, how to speed up the efficiency of the platform has become a topic of concern to many warehouse managers. The implementation of the automated loading and unloading system, ATLS, will meet the need for increased operational efficiency while reducing the time trucks spend on the platform and creating a safer environment for employees and products. This paper mainly introduces the composition, type and application value of automatic loading and unloading system, and analyzes its market demand through typical cases of different industries.

Rising labor costs, increasing labor shortages, insufficient logistics and storage space in big cities, more attention to clean, safe and controllable logistics processes, stricter employee health and safety regulations and other factors have prompted enterprises to pay more and more attention to improving the automation level of warehousing and logistics systems, in order to reduce manpower and improve efficiency. With the rapid development of logistics automation system, the traditional manual or forklift loading and unloading has become one of the bottlenecks affecting the platform operation efficiency and logistics cost. Automatic Truck Loading System (ATLS) can greatly save loading and unloading time and manpower, so as to shorten the waiting and detention time of transport vehicles in the logistics center. This system has been applied in foreign countries for decades. In recent years, the demand in the Chinese market has begun to rise significantly.

This paper mainly introduces the composition, type and application value of automatic loading and unloading system ATLS, and analyzes its market demand through typical cases of different industries.

I. Truck automatic loading and unloading system ATLS and its composition

1. Composition of automatic truck handling system ATLS

ATLS is a material handling system that enables automatic loading and unloading of truck or trailer loads by using different types of conveyors, pulleys or sliding forks. The ATLS system usually consists of two parts: the system on the truck (trailer) and the system on the platform.

(1) Truck (trailer) on the system: according to customer needs and types of goods can have different types, most types of system can be installed on the new or modified standard truck (trailer), specific can be modified to slide chain type, sliding fork type, chain plate, roller and other forms.

(2) The system on the platform: it is generally paired with the system on the truck (trailer) for easy docking, including the sliding chain system, sliding fork system, chain plate system, pulley system, etc. In addition, the platform is equipped with visual scanning positioning system, transition bridge, signal light and truck control system, control box, truck guide device, safety guardrail, etc.

The operation process of the automatic loading and unloading system is basically as follows: when the truck arrives at the platform, it reaches the designated position along the truck guide device installed on the platform; Align the system on the truck with the system on the platform through the visual system and then lock the truck; The driver turns on the automatic loading and unloading system, and the goods are automatically transferred from the truck to the platform at one time, or from the platform to the truck, which can load and unload the whole load in as little as 2 minutes. The driver can operate the system using a simple control unit.

By adding conveyors, lifting platforms, turntables and elevators connected to the automatic handling system, the automatic handling system and the automatic storage system can be seamlessly interlinked to enable fully automated operations from inside the warehouse to the loading and transportation of goods.

2. Classification of automatic handling system

Automatic loading and unloading system ATLS first appeared in Europe in the 1960s and was widely used in the mid-1980s. At present, various types of ATLS solutions have been formed for various industries and different application scenarios. The following takes Chiyun Intelligent Equipment (Shanghai) Co., LTD as an example to introduce the classification and characteristics of ATLS.

Chiyun Intelligence was established in 2016 in Shanghai, mainly engaged in the design, manufacturing, installation and service of ATLS products, has become the world's leading enterprise in the field of automatic handling system, its customers throughout China, the United States, Russia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Poland, etc., the main customers are: CATL, Unilever, ASML, Volkswagen, GE, Daimler, Procter & Gamble, Heineken Beer, DHL, DB SHENKER, Fedex, Preferred Freezer Services, etc.

Automatic truck handling system ATLS are mainly used in three scenarios: purchase (automatic unloading), shipment (automatic loading), and shuttle bus (automatic loading).

Among them, shuttle service between production facilities and distribution centers is the most common application of truck loading and unloading systems. According to whether the truck needs to be modified, the automatic handling system ATLS can be divided into two types, which require truck modification and do not require truck modification.

Automatic handling solutions that require truck refitting are especially suitable for shuttle bus applications that require high volume and frequent handling. For short-distance shuttle bus applications, suitable solutions include sliding chain, chain plate, conveyor belt and parcel automatic handling system; For intermediate bus applications, suitable solutions are sliding-fork automatic loading and unloading systems.

Automatic handling systems without truck modifications, including: solutions for delivery (loading only) with sliding automatic loading systems; Solutions for stocking and shipping, with enhanced sliding-fork system.

Relatively speaking, the solution of truck modification is needed. The difficulty of project implementation lies in the transformation of trucks. On the one hand, it is subject to the standardization of trucks, and on the other hand, it is due to the ownership of trucks. The difficulty of implementing solutions that do not require truck refitting is that the initial investment is large and the relatively high investment cost due to the complex system composition. And compared to solutions that require truck refitting, the entire process takes only eight minutes due to the additional time required for truck alignment and system retracting.

2. Application value of automatic loading and unloading system

Compared with traditional manual or forklift loading, automatic loading system ATLS can greatly improve the efficiency of truck loading and unloading. Especially in the automatic storage, automatic picking and automatic packaging technology has been more and more application, forklift or manual handling in the loading area hinder the overall operation efficiency of the logistics system, therefore, how to speed up the platform operation efficiency has become a topic of concern for many warehouse managers. The implementation of the automated handling system will meet the need for increased operational efficiency, while reducing the time trucks spend on the platform and creating a safer environment for employees and products.

The benefits of the automated truck handling system are as follows:

Labor and related costs are saved because the loading and unloading process is automated and no longer requires stevedovers, reducing the number of forklifts and the number of related personnel, and saving forklift maintenance and repair costs.

Improved platform utilization eliminates the need for DC or warehouse expansion and reduces storage costs as higher volumes can be completed per platform.

As a result of the more concentrated movement of goods, the warehouse cache area is reduced. Because goods are moved in and out faster, the cache inventory is smaller, allowing JIT (just-in-time) inventory.

Truck loading and unloading times were significantly reduced, fleet utilization increased, and fewer trucks and drivers were required, resulting in cost savings. Similarly, trucks require less space outside the warehouse because of their shorter turnaround time.

Because the loading and unloading process is controlled, there is less damage to cargo and equipment and a safer working environment for personnel, resulting in increased employee satisfaction and reduced attrition.

3. Market demand and practical application of automatic handling system

With the arrival of the new economy, every industry is facing unprecedented challenges. Efficient, safe and timely supply chain has become a magic weapon for enterprises to win in the market competition. However, the original forklift and manual handling have become bottlenecks affecting the efficiency and safety of the supply chain. Therefore, many industry giants have deployed and implemented automatic truck handling system ATLS to improve logistics efficiency, especially in the automobile manufacturing industry, fast-moving consumer goods industry, cold chain industry, paper industry, express and postal industry, etc., and the demand for automatic handling system ATLS is stronger.

1. The automobile industry

The automotive industry requires just-in-time (JIT) logistics, where parts must be delivered at the right time and in the right order. Automated truck handling system ATLS can connect automated warehousing and transportation, simplify complex logistics processes, improve delivery speed, and ensure product safety. Automotive manufacturers such as Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Opel and Volvo, as well as components manufacturers such as Lear Corporation, Eurofit, Johson Controls and Faurecia, have implemented ATLS in their production bases around the world.

Audi's factory in Ingolstadt, Germany, for example, has installed two chain-plate handling systems for unloading car wheels in sequence. The wheel assembly plant has also installed two chain-plate handling systems, which deliver cars on time and in sequence according to different requirements specified by the Audi production line. To increase capacity, the truck is fitted with a double-layer chain plate system, each layer can be stacked with 3 x 18 wheels, and the truck is transported back and forth between Audi and the wheel assembly plant to meet production line requirements in time. The automatic loading and unloading system is fully integrated into the automatic material handling system, realizing the automatic seamless connection between the warehouse of the automobile wheel factory and the production line of Audi automobile factory, satisfying the wheel sequential JIT arrival required by the Audi production line. Moreover, due to the shortened loading and unloading time, the number of trucks required is reduced, and the labor cost is also greatly reduced.

The double-layer automatic handling system of raw materials and automatic handling system of transmission finished products implemented by Chiyun Intelligence in Yantai SAIC have all played an extraordinary role in the successful implementation of the black light factory.

2. FMCG industry

The success of the fast-moving consumer goods industry depends on advanced supply chain systems, characterized by on-demand delivery. By implementing the automated truck handling system ATLS, the turnover of freight shuttles between production facilities and distribution centers, distribution centers and retail stores can be accelerated to meet consumer demand quickly and accurately. As a result, fast-moving consumer goods industry giants such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestle, Heineken and Coca Cola have invested in automated truck handling systems.

For example, Unilever's Hefei distribution center is equipped with three automated truck loading systems and 15 dedicated trucks. Each automatic loading system includes a 16.6-meter sliding rail (sliding-fork) automatic loading system, which is installed on the platform. The fluted track is installed in the semi-trailer, which is connected to the sliding-fork automatic loading system. The cargo can move automatically between the loading platform and the truck.

When the truck arrives, the driver receives a door number and an open code from the IT system. Once the truck is docked, the driver enters a code to verify that the truck is parked on the correct platform. After the verification is completed, the warehouse door automatically opens, and the pallet cargo in the truck is automatically unloaded to the loading and unloading system of the shuttle vehicle. From the loading and unloading system, the cargo is moved to the lifting platform, and the AGV automatically moves the cargo on the lifting platform to the warehouse.

When shipping, the pallets on the cache system are automatically moved to the handling system on the shuttle and then to the truck. When loading is complete, the truck moves away and the warehouse door closes automatically.

All platforms are 18 meters long and carry a payload of 38 tons. Through the use of automatic loading and unloading system, Unilever's delivery and receipt can be completed automatically at any time 24 hours a day, making the supply chain more smooth.

3. Cold chain industry

The core requirement of cold chain logistics is to keep products fresh, so cold losses in refrigerated transportation and storage must be reduced. The automated truck handling system, ATLS, reduces the loading and unloading time while reducing the chance of human contact with the cargo to avoid the risk of cold loss. ATLS are already being used by a number of large Cold storage operators such as Preferred Freezer Services (PFS) in the US, Friesland Foods in Europe, Waterfront, New Cold, etc.

In designing a new 24/7 cold storage facility, PFS, one of the largest refrigerated storage companies in the world, plans to get 1.3 billion pounds of goods a year from three plants of one customer. With the truck handling system ATLS installed, PFS can load 50,000 pounds of cargo in minutes, saving time and manpower.

The ATLS project uses a sliding chain system with a total of 10 platform systems and 12 truck systems. Four platform systems were installed at PFS cold storage and two were installed at each of the three plants. Each platform is equipped with a control box that allows the driver to implement the loading and unloading process upon arrival. From the time the truck is parked to the time it is driven away, the whole process takes 10 to 15 minutes. Compared to traditional solutions, the solution guarantees the integrity of the cold chain while minimizing the number of times people touch frozen goods, reducing the possibility of damaged, lost or incorrect goods. Since the system is directly connected to the WMS, all incoming and outgoing goods are effectively controlled. Improved handling efficiency and reduced labor costs have helped PFS improve its service level and competitiveness.

4. Postal delivery industry

In order to reduce labor force, sorting machines have been widely used in this industry. However, manual handling still takes a lot of manpower, and too many forklifts will also bring safety risks to the working environment. By using the ATLS system, packages can be automatically loaded from the sorting line directly into the truck, where packages can be unloaded automatically, maximizing the efficiency of the sorter and reducing the use of platforms and labor. France Post, Denmark Post, DHL, etc., have made extensive use of ATLS system.

La Poste deployed 55 platform systems and 400 truck handling systems. Compared with traditional loading and unloading methods, the loading and unloading efficiency is increased by 300 percent, and each truck can be unloaded completely automatically within 20 minutes. The unloading system works at two different speeds, and the sorter gets a constant supply of goods based on the load in the truck, allowing it to maximize its capacity. Each platform can transport 4,000-6,000 packages per hour. The implementation of this system has improved the parcel throughput of La Poste, shortened the delivery time of parcels, reduced the number of trucks used for parcel transport, reduced the number of platforms, and ensured the safety of the working environment.

Iv. Promotion of automatic handling system in China

Although ATLS technology has been available for many years, its promotion has been limited. The main reasons that restrict its development are as follows:

(1) The installation of the traditional automatic loading and unloading scheme requires modification of the truck, which is lack of flexibility and versatility;

(2) Many enterprises think that the initial investment of the system is too high;

(3) Many enterprises pay more attention to production automation and warehouse automation, not enough attention to loading and unloading automation.

For the first difficulty, a new solution has been developed that eliminates the need to retrofit the truck. As for the problem of high initial investment, the payback period will be greatly shortened with the increasing labor cost, storage cost and transportation cost. As for the third point, with the rapid landing of production and warehouse automation, loading and unloading has become a bottleneck affecting the efficiency and cost of the supply chain, so ATLS will be applied by more and more enterprises.


Chiyun Intelligent Equipment (Shanghai) Co., LTDscan



Chiyun Intelligent Equipment (Shanghai) Co., LTD