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Aug 17, 2012

Materials-handling company undertakes blue chip contracts

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Materials-handling systems provider DDL Equipment has completed four contracts and secured a fifth, which involves various blue chip companies in South Africa. The contracts have a combined value of R3-million to R5-million.

The company supplied sectional doors, combo seals and truck guides for export company P E Cold Store, in Port Elizabeth, in June.

It also supplied seven galvanised dock levellers for vehicle manufacturer Mercedes-Benz South Africa, also in Port Elizabeth, which was completed in June.

This has led to a new contract for the supply of 11 dock levellers to the Automotive Supplier Park at the East London industrial development zone, which will start later this year.

DDL Equipment installed dock levellers, sectional and high-speed doors, combo seals, as well as truck guides for food producer Rainbow Chicken’s Rustenburg factory.

It also supplied sectional doors, high-speed doors and an extreme door for Nestlé South Africa’s Babelegi plant. Both contracts have been completed.

Conceptual drawings are discussed with architects, quantity surveyors, consulting engineers, project managers and contractors.

“Thereafter, planning is done, after which installation begins. It can often take months for installations to be completed, as DDL must fit in with the construction schedule, which can be a lengthy process,” says DDL Equipment MD Andrew Stewart.

The company has streamlined its approach to materials handling and makes use of fast-tracking information technology (IT), which Stewart says is becoming increasingly critical in materials-handling hardware.

“Software connections would not be able to function smoothly if the manufacturers of materials-handling systems did not produce equipment, machines and plants which offer a high level of reliability and compatibility,” he says.

Stewart states that customers in various industries are demanding shorter delivery times. He adds that DDL Equipment understands this urgency within the industry, which is one of the reasons why it is able to secure multimillion-rand contracts.

“High-speed production would not be possible without sophisticated materials- handling and logistics systems. This means there must be more networking among all the disciplines, from raw materials to the point of sale,” he says.

Stewart states that emerging concepts, such as the provision of total solutions and supply chain management, are signs that a holistic approach to the entire production chain is non-negotiable to the industry.

“A high level of mechanisation is needed to achieve the required flexibility, bringing factory automisation to the forefront. Design and production engineers are always looking for ways to make the industry more assembly friendly.

“The design, operation, scheduling, logistics and buying form an integrated chain of systems and functions,” he says.

Further, Stewart notes that industry standards in South Africa need to improve with respect to equipment, unit loads, the bulk handling and conveying of materials, as well as marketing.

He states that factors such as health and safety legislative requirements; labour; the Factories, Machinery and Building Work Act; the National Road Traffic Act; and energy savings, dictate requirements for today’s materials-handling processes.

“Therefore, materials handling cannot be blindly mechanised,” Stewart notes.

Energy efficiency plays a significant role in materials handling and DDL Equipment manufactures high-powered productivity doors, which allow materials-handling equipment to move freely to storage facilities without restriction.

“This increases productivity and conserves the power consumption of the indoor cooling mechanisms, as cold air is prevented from leaving the containment area,” he says.

Stewart explains that high-speed, sectional or fold-up doors, which are lightweight and fitted with translucent windows, allow natural light into containment storage areas, which also saves energy and increases productivity when used in controlled environments.

“Until a few years ago, the industry, generally, relied on heavy steel doors to provide access to work areas. These doors had short life spans, which could slow down the materials-handling process, owing to the effort it took to open and close them, as they were generally not automated and relied on manual labour to operate.

“They were also not normally closed once they had been opened, which led to valuable energy being lost.

“High-speed productivity doors are able to move at speeds of between 250 mm a second and 800 mm a second, compared with manual doors, which are slow and move at speeds of about 100 mm a second,” he points out.

Stewart adds that productivity doors not only divide work areas into sections but also open and close automatically. When a truck approaches, they open and close just in time, keeping the cold air in and the dirt, dust and heat out.

Productivity doors are also safer, as they incorporate advanced safety features, such as sensors that stop the door when an object in the doorway is detected.

DDL Equipment prides itself on keeping abreast of legislation and the industry’s continuously changing requirements, such as the implementation of the hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP) system, which was officially implemented in South Africa in 2007 and focuses specifically on food safety, including the safe transportation and retail of food products.

“The HACCP system’s approach to food safety prevents hazards that could cause food-borne illnesses by monitoring the production process of food products. This directly affects materials handling.

“Care needs to be taken at every stage where food is handled, from production to distribution.

At the end of the day, new laws and standards that are regulated for the materials-handling industry are there to ensure its safety and reliability. There is no compensation for implementing safety and quality measures,” Stewart concludes.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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