Saturday 22nd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Automation helps Hodgson seal productivity improvement

Hodgson Sealants has increased production by up to ten per cent at its Lymington facility after implementing an automated conveyor system.

The system, which has been designed, manufactured and installed by CI Logistics, transports boxes of butyl sealant products from the first floor to the palletising and dispatch area on the ground floor.

The global sealant supplier operates from two sites, one in the north of England at Beverly and the other site based in Lymington, which was purpose built in 1988 and has become the company’s centre for butyl sealant manufacturing and extrusion.

Hodgson initially approached three companies to tender for the contract, but chose the CI Logistics design as it was “ergonomic, modular and more versatile that the other systems which were rigid and fixed in comparison,” according to the company’s engineering manager, who adds: “Because the system is modular, it is relatively maintenance free and will be easy to adapt should we wish to carry out future modifications.”

The system was installed in three phased stages, along with a control system also designed by CI Logistics.

Hodgson says managing the flow of boxes by stalling them at the merge points if the system is busy is an integral part of the process.

“Essentially it’s a good system with a minimal number of drive units, which gives a reduced risk of component failure,” he says.

Once the automated system was switched on it had to work from day one as all of the production lines were committed to it. 

The palletised raw butyl sealant arrives by lift onto the upstairs extruder floor, ready prepared for the extrusion process. 

The raw product is fed to the production lines where each operator can produce between 50 to 120 boxes of extruded product per shift. 

All of the extrusion lines are connected by spurs to the main conveyor system.  Double lift up gates have been incorporated into a number of these conveyor spur sections to allow access with a pallet truck if necessary. 

After filling the boxes with finished product operators now just have push boxes out onto the conveyor system instead of directly placing them onto the pallets. 

Boxes are transported to the ground floor via one of two conveyor routes; one runs above the main gangway supported by structural steelwork to provide maximum usable floor space, while the other emerges from the extruder floor close to the decline section where the two routes merge. 

“Our operators are now at their stations extruding product for longer periods, where in the past they had to leave the line to manually pack boxes onto a pallet which was then taken to the ground floor via the lift,” says Hodgson’s engineering manager. 

“This took time and meant that the production lines’ output had to accommodate those processes. As soon as we became automated we saw the gains in terms of increased production output by up to ten per cent.” 

Hodgson Sealants also believes that installing the conveyor system has helped to protect the health and safety of its staff by reducing a manual handling component of their work.