HD Smith/AmerisourceBergen (healthcare/pharma)

H.D. Smith

HD Smith Increases Productivity with Hytrol System
The new system increases primary pick locations, worker productivity, and shortens cycle time.

H.D. Smith Increases Productivity With Hytrol System

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Before the implementation of the Hytrol conveyor system, H. D. Smith had only two separate pick lines, one for over-the-counter products and one for Prescription products. The total conveyor system then was only about 100 feet of powered conveyor and 300 feet of gravity. In implementing the new Hytrol system, the company’s main objectives were to increase primary pick locations from 15,000 to 30,000, increase worker productivity, and shorten cycle time.

Product Flow:
RECEIVING: All receiving is done at the north end of the building. The product is received and brought by pallet to the receiving stations and scanned into the system. Products are removed from every carton and placed into a barcoded tote. All corrugate is deposited into an overhead trash conveyor (Hytrol Model TH) which carries it to an automatic baler located outside the building. The product is then married to the tote. The mainframe computer communicates with the conveyor control system (CCS) and tells the CCS which zone to send the tote. The totes are then conveyed across the building to the pick module, sorted to the correct zone, and placed into the correct pick location.

View of the Shipping Area

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PICKING: Orders are printed in waves at the order induction station. Each order has its barcode denoting an order identification number. The pick sheet is then married to a barcoded (license plate) pick tote. The host system then communicates to the CCS which pick zone or zones the tote must be sent. The tote is then routed only to the required pick zone(s).

CHECKING: Once an order is complete, the tote is conveyed to the checking area. The checkers remove the tote from the Hytrol zero-pressure accumulating conveyor (Model 190-ABEZ) and scan the pick ticket. Each item is then scanned and placed into a shipping tote. When the order has been confirmed complete and correct, a lid is placed on the tote. The tote is then placed onto the conveyor and moved to the shipping sortation conveyor (Hytrol Model SC). The computer communicates the license plate and its assigned sortation lane to the CCS.

SHIPPING: The totes are conveyed to and through an automatic strapper. The strapped totes are then inducted into the sortation system, the license plate is scanned, the appropriate sortation line determined, and the tote is sorted out.

EMPTY REPLENISHMENT TOTES: Once the replenishment totes are empty, they are placed on the line with the pick totes. On each pick level, there is a divert location where the empty replenishment totes are diverted off and conveyed back to the receiving station to be reused.

Benefits Realized:

hd1 Before the installation of this system, the average lines shipped per DC worker was 40 per hour. With the new system, the average is currently 104 lines per hour. Pickers are picking 250-300 lines per hour. Checkers are checking 350-400 lines per hour. In the past year, the volume has increased by 50%.

Recycle Ink- Full function industrial container management

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Conveyor System Upgrade Increases Throughput
Faster order-picking and increased flexibility improve order-filling accuracy. 

Full-function industrial container management

Conveyor system automates container handling operation

When Recycle Inc. had the opportunity to design a new container processing plant from the ground up, an automated conveyor system was high on the list of priorities. Company managers wanted to replace a largely manual handling operation with a conveyor-based approach that would be both more efficient and safer.

Based on the new facility’s first few months of operation, they were right. Employee productivity climbed 20% just in the first week of start-up. Throughput projections predict that the new plant will process four times as much material as the old plant did in the same amount of time and with the same number of employees.

Jeffrey Bey, President of Recycle Inc., cites several reasons behind his company’s decision to switch to automated handling. “Essentially what we are is a manufacturing operation,” Bey explains. “We use one process to wash and prepare containers that will be reused, and another process to shred or granulate containers that are to be destroyed.

“Our incoming ‘raw materials’ are the containers themselves. These containers — especially the larger ones — tend to be unwieldy, and some of them are fairly heavy. In the past, we handled the containers manually at several points during processing. Given our throughput requirements, we had the potential for accidents, and our approach wasn’t very efficient. As the demand for our services escalated, we knew that we needed to come up with a completely new way of handling containers — one that would take advantage of the benefits offered by automation.”

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After the company located a suitable building for a new facility in South Plainfield, New Jersey, Bey assembled a project team to study new materials handling methods. The team contacted several nearby conveyor distributors for design ideas. According to Bey, some distributors balked at the idea of getting involved in up-front design work without first being assured that they would get the job.

“We were looking for ideas,” says Bey, “and we were also looking for a distributor and a conveyor manufacturer that would partner with us on this project.” Fortunately, the local Hytrol Conveyor distributor, South Plainfield-based Century Conveyor, didn’t hesitate to tackle the project.

Working closely with the project team, representatives from Century Conveyor, from Hytrol, and a nearby automation firm designed a conveyor system that combines powered conveyors with smart sensors and custom software. At every decision-point in the system, sensors supply feedback to the control program on the movement of individual containers, on the performance of the conveyors, and even on the maintenance requirements of the sensors themselves.

A Whole New Approach

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At the company’s old processing facility, employees did a lot of the handling of incoming containers. The plant did have a conveyor system in place, but it was a single straight-line design that simply transported the containers from one workstation to the next. The old conveyor system did not include any powered transfers or spurs.

The design of the new conveyor system at the South Plainfield facility greatly reduces the amount of manual handling by relying on automated conveyors to move the containers.

The new plant inspects and cleans 5- to 85-gallon polyethylene containers and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) for reuse. Also, it provides certified destruction of 5- to 85-gallon polyethylene, steel, and fiber containers, and of IBCs.

Incoming containers are transferred from trucks to one of four takeaway conveyor lines. Based on their composition, disposition and on whether they will be prepared for reuse, the containers are carried by the conveyors to several possible destinations.

Containers that are to be reused are conveyed to an inspection loop where employees evaluate their condition. Powered roller conveyors then carry the containers that have passed inspection to one of three fully-automated washing stations. After washing and another inspection, the containers are ready to be returned to their owners for reuse. All of these containers are captive within a closed-loop system between their owners, customers, and the South Plainfield plant.

Containers that are slated to be destroyed are conveyed to other workstations within the building for processing. In this part of its operation, the facility handles containers made of steel, polyethylene, or fiber.

Conveyors carry steel containers to a shredder; the scrap metal that is generated goes to electric mini-mills to be made into reinforcing rods for use in concrete construction projects. Polyethylene containers are ground into pellets which are then sold to be made into various corrugated plastic products including plastic drums. The fiber containers are conveyed to a workstation where they are broken down before being supplied to a paper mill for recycling.

Except for the belt conveyors that carry materials to waiting trailers, nearly all of the conveyors used in the new system are powered roller. Strategically-placed accumulation sections control the grouping of the containers before being transferred to workstation infeed conveyors. At two points, powered turntables rotate the containers 180 degrees (see drawing).

“This new system is enabling us to process 80,000 containers per month with almost no manual handling,” notes Bey, “and it can handle a lot more. So in addition to being far more efficient and having a much greater throughput capacity, we now also have a facility that’s substantially safer for our employees.”

Recycle Inc.’s new 86,500 sq. ft. processing center

Incoming containers are loaded onto four takeaway conveyors in the receiving area. The containers are conveyed either to inspection and washing or to shredding or granulating. The containers that are to be reused are delivered to their owners after being washed; materials from destroyed containers are hauled to recyclers to be made into other products.

The new facility at a glance

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Company: Recycle Inc.
Location: South Plainfield, N.J.
Nature of operation: full-function industrial container management
Services provided: container inspection, cleaning, dedicated reuse, certified destruction
Total square feet: 86,500
Number of employees: 70 (company-wide)
Types of containers handled: 5- to 85-gallon polyethylene containers; intermediate bulk containers (IBCs)
Types of containers destroyed: 5- to 85-gallon polyethylene, steel, and fiber containers; IBCs
Number of containers processed per month: 80,000
Design conveyor throughput rate: 10 drums per minute
Maximum daily throughput: 6,000 Accumulation sections: Chain driven live roller
Conveyor supplier: Hytrol Conveyor Company, Inc.-Jonesboro, Arkansas
Equipment distributor: Century Conveyor Service, Inc.-South Plainfield, N.J.

California

California Office

In August 2017, LaFayette took its first steps in being a nationwide company. We had already developed a group of employees in the area, who created a team atmosphere, we just needed an office location. Since the day the west coast office opened its priority was to service the greater Los Angeles area and continues to do so to this day.

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New Jersey

Century Conveyor Systems is a 30+ year old material handling system integration specialist company located in South Plainfield, New Jersey. While the LaFayette team provides remote support from the Danville, Ky office, Century Conveyor Systems adds extra support with their emergency hands-on service team.

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Kentucky

LaFayette Engineering, Inc. is an electrical controls company headquarters based out of Danville, Kentucky. Our primary business is the design and installation of controls for conveyor systems, including high-speed case sortation. LaFayette Engineering maintains the technical capabilities and range of expertise that you may have come to expect only from very large engineering firms, combined with the flexibility, adaptability and affordable personal service that only a small engineering firm can provide.

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