Australian snack food company, The Smith’s Snackfood Company, have improved the efficiency of their pallet handling systems at one of their distribution centres by automating their pallet distribution process using CHEP Asia-Pacific 's Pallet Dispenser. This helped reduce manual handling and production bottlenecks.
Smith’s move a significant number of cases of their product on pallets through their Tingalpa distribution centre in Queensland each week. This became a time consuming process and affected the efficiency of the site.
Bottle necks occurred in the order picking module as staff had to wait for the team’s forklift to replenish pallet supplies and break stacks of pallets down for individual removal by pallet jack. OH&S issues arose when staff members broke down pallet stacks themselves. This manual handling of pallets increased the risk of injury. The idea of automating the pallet dispensing process developed during a planning session and distribution centre manager, Kevin Quinn and his team began researching.
CHEP Asia-Pacific’s Ronan Maguire, Platform Specialist - Cubics (Perishables), offered them CHEP’s Pallet Dispenser.
“We were able to see a prototype in action at a Distribution Centre nearby – four months later we had one ourselves. The whole process ran really smoothly,” said Mr Quinn. “We looked at a couple of alternatives, but the CHEP machine best suited our requirements.”
The CHEP Pallet Dispenser allows pallets to be loaded and accumulated in a stack. When required, the machine releases individual pallets onto the floor for retrieval by a pallet jack or hand truck. When using the automatic model, the unit can dispense up to four pallets per minute.
“It’s really easy to use; there are no buttons to push or things to fiddle with. It’s a set and forget solution – load it up and walk away with your pallet when you need it. The whole process is automatic,” Mr Quinn said. “We’ve increased the efficiency of our order picking team who no longer have to wait for the forklift to break down their pallets for them, the dispenser can shoot one out every 15 seconds if needed, and our forklift is used more efficiently as well.”
“One of our biggest challenges is space. The sheer volume of product passing through our Distribution Centre everyday can stretch our capacity to handle and store it all. Not having surplus pallets lying around, and being able to quickly move the ones we do need really helps,” he said.
“By using the CHEP Pallet Dispenser to make the order picking process more efficient, we are able to assemble orders more efficiently, and have eliminated any OH&S concerns with team members breaking down pallets for individual use. The addition of the CHEP Pallet Dispenser has definitely made a difference.”
“A distribution centre’s forklift is a valuable asset – by using ours more efficiently, we have delivered productivity savings to our business for all tasks associated with replenishing our pick module.”
“We move huge quantities of stock on a daily basis. Anything that assists in the management of this volume of product in a way that delivers productivity and OH&S improvements is a welcome addition to our operations,” Mr Quinn said.