From smart machines to reinventing the cold supply chain, this year's innovators present illuminated solutions to complex industry challenges.
Guided Missile Technology Automates Trailer Loading
The SmartLoader, from Jervis B. Webb Co., Farmington Hills, MI, is an unmanned vehicle that moves loads around a warehouse using a high-tech, inertial guidance system similar to the technology found in military guided missiles.
The vehicle delivers palletized loads in multiple configurations from palletizer output, rack or staging areas into any over-the-road trailer without guidance wires, lasers or magnets. It also has the ability to stack loads and remove items from a conveyor system.
A leading beverage company is currently using more than a dozen SmartLoaders three shifts a day, five to seven days a week, to reduce operating costs-especially costs associated with continuous trailer loading operations, down time, equipment maintenance and damaged product.
The vehicle maneuvers around the warehouse using a Vehicle Control Computer that accurately maintains the intended path and performs required tasks. Transponders embedded in the floor are sensed by the vehicle to identify its exact location. The vehicle integrates with warehouse management systems to provide real-time control.
SmartLoader runs on an eight-hour battery, which the vehicle recharges itself without manual intervention. The vehicle can move dual or single loads, adapt to various trailer sizes and skew angles, and pack loads loosely or tightly.
With the ability to support up to 4,800 pounds, SmartLoader can move prepackaged goods in dual or single loads into trailers. It travels up to 230 feet per minute on a straight, forward path and up to 130 feet per minute in reverse.