The name of CHEP is familiar to anyone operating in an intermodal or freight depot as a world leader in pallet supplies with over 300 million in circulation. Now the company has opened a new material-handling simulator in Orlando which is the world’s first testing facility for pallets and customer unit-loads that can measure handling impacts throughout the entire distribution life cycle to ensure optimum durability in use.
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 installation will enable CHEP to minimise the need for lengthy material-handling field trials and dramatically lower the cost of testing to improve on system and product design. The simulator will employ about 20 support professionals and is located minutes from the headquarters of CHEP Americas and the CHEP Innovation Center in Orlando, Florida. It expands 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; and 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 pin-wheeling pallets.
CHEP’s Vice President of Quality and Customer Value, Skip Miller, said:
“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. We look forward to significant advances in the area of shipping platform design and functionality from the facility.”