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CHEP Launches Lab to Test Product Handling Equipment

Lab will feature testing machinery to simulate distribution and supply chain conditions to measure pallet damage and performance
By Modern Materials Handling Staff
February 07, 2011

CHEP, the pallet pooling solution provider, opened the doors to a new material-handling simulator in Orlando. 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.

Primary benefits of the simulator for CHEP include: a reduction in the need for lengthy material-handling field trials; dramatically lower costs from a 90% reduction in the number of shipping platforms needed for each test; and enhanced analysis from state-of-the-art measuring equipment. CHEP executives expect the lab will enable better decision-making for CHEP and ultimately CHEP customers by allowing quick comparisons of pallet durability and performance improvements against a control group representing current pallet platforms.

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.”

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, FL. 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 pinwheeling pallets.

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