Steve Mercer, Managing Director of C&H Hauliers
Jan. 6, 2012
The latest generation of high speed newspaper presses require a totally reliable, seamless supply chain to manage the required high volumes of dense, heavy reels of paper. 'Just in time' deliveries are planned and precisely scheduled - and vehicle turnaround times need to be optimised for good fleet utilisation. There is little or no margin (or indeed tolerance) for getting it wrong.
This article shares a short case history of how C&H became part of a multi-discipline and cross-industry team, which was brought together by our collective ultimate customer ... in this case, one of the world's leading newspaper groups, to address precisely the demands and challenges that have just been highlighted. The project was a success story. It has rewritten the best practices operating manual of how we handle, transport and unload reels of newsprint.
In 2005 - so already more than five years ago - the then Newsprint Purchasing Director of News International, a visionary named Ken McCoy, initiated a project to fully review and reassess the way reels were handled, loaded, transported - and ultimately delivered to its pressrooms at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire and Knowsley on Merseyside. He had very good reason to do so.
Standard practice was then - and in many cases still is - to carry standard 1,500 mm reels on end within a standard curtainsider type trailer. They are normally side loaded with a clamp truck - and discharged on end direct into the pressroom using Joloda's established, powered automatic newsprint system. This system uses a linked, modular, multi-section development of the company's now 50-year-old and still market leading skate design, called Trailerskate. Typically, the reels would not be additionally restrained - although Joloda applies a non-slip polyurethane coating, called Hypalast, to all surfaces in contact with the reels, including chocks, to prevent any slippage.
Practice across the industry varies. In Germany,for example, the TUV standard requires individual restraint on all the reels and the reels themselves have to sit onto rubber matting.
Ken McCoy's concern, which he shared with Ceri Jones of papermakers, UPM, was that, even at 1,500 mm, the centre of gravity of the load exceeded the UK industry norm of 2,150 mm. In line with the company's safety, best practice, brand reputation and its corporate and social responsibility policies, the potential risks had to be identified, managed and reduced. The implications and potential liability, for instance of a vehicle being involved in an incident, which was found to be in any way associated with the stability, handling or cornering of the vehicle and its load, were obvious and untenable.
Concurrently, the new generation of presses was beginning to stretch that load dimension envelope even further - with reels up to 2,211mm and each weighing in excess of two tonnes- creating an even higher centre of gravity and going even further outside normal recommended limits for load height.
Ken McCoy recognized that there had to be a better way. He assembled a pioneering project team that brought together all the parties and disciplines involved. In particular, it included C&H Hauliers, UPM and Joloda International ... plus Stora, Holman, Norske Skog, Aylesford Newsprint, Manroland, which manufactures the presses, Carillion, the construction group involved with the press building, the transport firm which services News International in the north, WH Malcolm and UK trailer builders, Cartwright and Lawrence David.
Over a period of regular meetings, a new concept was evolved for what is now called ‘the shotgun system', with the reels lying down on their belly and positioned along the full length of the trailer. An immediate benefit was the reduction of the centre of gravity of the trailer load to just over 1.7 m, significantly improving the handling and stability of the vehicle in transit.
The next requirement was to design and develop a fully automatic docking and unloading system at the pressroom end so that the entire load could be discharged quickly and safely - with minimum risk and operator intervention.
The trailer is based on a standard tri-axle curtain sider trailer with special Joloda tracks recessed into the floor. To ensure absolute security of two rows of 1,250-mm diameter full size reels of newsprint lying flat, Joloda developed a fixed, shaped centreline bolster which effectively separates the two lines of reels onboard and prevents any lateral movement across the trailer.
Then, on either side of the trailer, there are a series of short drop sides each of which incorporate a shaped chock arrangement. These are held in their locked-up position by simple removable drop-in pillars.
Note that, with the reels positioned on the floor cradle of the trailer and retained centrally and at the side, nothing is going to move. Importantly no force is taken into the side curtains; they are there to do exactly what they are intended for: to provide security and protect the load from weather and damage.
Now we turn to the procedure when one of our trucks arrives at the pressroom. First of all, the driver will open the rear doors only and that includes releasing the air-operated special corner posts, which reveals a load access aperture that is in excess of the full width of the rear of the trailer. This enables two rows of 1,250 mm diameter reels totaling 2.5 m in width to be discharged through the rear frame of the trailer; 2.5 m is the maximum permissible vehicle width, hence the need for expanding rear frame pillars.
A secondary fixed kingpin is installed at a predetermined position at the rear of the trailer under the floor. As the driver reverses, this kingpin engages with a fixed fifth wheel coupling mounted on the loading dock, so the trailer is now locked onto the dock. Then the automatic unloading system takes over.
Special curved and sectioned Joloda Trailer skates are then deployed into the trailer along the recessed Joloda tracks that sit in the floor. Once in position, airbags within the skate sections are inflated, with the effect that the curved top sections of the skates now engage directly with the reels to be unloaded and lift them clear of the floor.
The load is now ‘live' and ready to be powered out of the trailer onto the loading dock. To compensate for a natural tendency for the load to ‘spread', to absorb any side-thrust and to ensure smooth operation, both trailer and dock tracking incorporate a patented roller ball system. The entire cycle time to unload a full payload of anything up to 26 tonnes of reels is around three and a half minutes - with no operator presence directly in the area of the load - and therefore it is an intrinsically safe operation.
Our fleet now includes around 40 dedicated trailers, equipped with Joloda's purpose designed and built automatic reel unloading system, which is fully integrated between the trailer and the dock. The system has also been adopted for News International's northern operation, the logistics for which are supported by the Scotland based group, W H Malcolm.
It works. The system and the components within it have now been in operation for four years with no downtime and very, very little maintenance. Of course, our drivers are all highly qualified - and we take both training and their safety extremely seriously - so they know the equipment - and how to operate it in a professional and fully compliant manner.
For the future, the media and newspaper industry will remain exceptionally dynamic and high profile (maybe even sometimes higher profile than it would prefer!!). It is continuously changing and evolving; new methods and technologies are being introduced all the time. All these demand increased efficiency and control of costs.
Take for instance the ambitious sustainability targets to which the industry has to aspire and the increased production and use (and therefore inherent movement) of recycled paper. The logistics chain is always at the heart of how those objectives are achieved and implemented.