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Pallet and container pooling solutions provider CHEP has unveiled a material-handling simulator as a new complement to its Innovation Center, which is just minutes away from the simulator at CHEP’s Orlando headquarters.
According to CHEP, the simulator is the world’s first testing facility for pallets and customer unit-loads that can measure handling impacts throughout the entire distribution life cycle. The lab features testing machinery that simulates distribution and supply chain conditions to measure pallet damage and performance. CHEP developed the 63,000-square-foot facility to reduce the assessment period and cost for evaluating new shipping platform designs.
“The material-handling simulator is a natural progression of CHEP’s efforts to meet the growing product movement and storage needs of our customers while making the entire supply chain more efficient and productive,” said Skip Miller, CHEP’s VP of quality and customer value. “We [expect] significant advances in the area of shipping platform design and functionality from the facility.”
CHEP said that the primary benefits of the simulator include a reduction in the need for lengthy material-handling field trials; dramatically lower costs from a 90 percent reduction in the number of shipping platforms needed for each test; and enhanced analysis from state-of-the-art measuring equipment.
The simulator will expand the range of testing available at the Innovation Center, which remains open and dedicated to testing product and ingredient unit-loads and other packaging for customers.
Equipment at the material-handling simulator includes:
- A robotic vision system that generates high-resolution images to assess pallet damage, durability, and life-cycle;
- Five impact sleds that simulate forklift-truck contact from one to eight miles per hour;
- A storage and retrieval system station that simulates all typical racking configurations.
The simulator feeds information from these devices into a system that records all measurements into a database. The facility also includes forklift and pallet jack stations to test manually the impact of racking, stacking, bulldozing, and pinwheeling pallets.
CHEP’s 300 million pallets and containers support more than 500,000 customer touch-points in 45 countries. Its customer portfolio includes global companies and brands such as Procter & Gamble, Sysco, Kellogg's, Kraft, Nestlé, Ford, and GM.