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National sortation systems revamped for Australian air Express

Materials handling firm Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd (ICA) partnered with Danish company FKI Logistex in a major system re-design and supply of fully automated parcel and satchel sortation systems for freight company, Australian air Express.

Australian air Express (AaE) had been operating a number of predominantly manual sortation systems in major cities and sought the FKI/ICA partnership which engineered what its client refers to as a ‘wholesale change’ to its business.

The upgrade in processes was so successful that a component of the overall project designed and developed by ICA was recognised recently at the SRCC Safety Awards.

National Manager for Process/Design and Materials Handling at AaE, Mr Paul Marlan, says the company planned this major upgrade to ensure its processes remain at an international standard and accommodate growth.

“We planned the system so it can expand as required in the future. This called for completely automating facilities in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne,” said Mr Marlan.

“It is a major upgrading of our capital equipment and a streamlining of our eastern seaboard operation.

“Sites in each of Melbourne and Sydney are greenfield facilities. This was the ideal time to completely modernise our national operation.”

Australian air Express was established in early 1992 and started operations as a joint venture between Australia’s largest airline Qantas (50 per cent), and government-owned postal provider Australia Post (50 per cent).

To ensure it acquired the highest level of automated sortation technology, AaE developed a comprehensive tender package and issued to a number of world renowned sortation system suppliers including FKI Logistex, with which ICA has a strong association.

As part of the FKI partnership, ICA supplied engineering input to the development of the total sortation system solution, design and supply of multiple conveyors for parcel and satchel systems, remote I/O control systems and HMI interface SCADA system that work in sync with the FKI sortation systems.

ICA also provided further cost effective support by locally designing and manufacturing components for the FKI sorting system such as parcel induction aligning conveyors, structural items, platforms etc. In addition, because ICA has a large manufacturing facility based in Australia it was able to supply a significant labour component for the job.

A further very important component of ICA’s scope of works was to ensure that the total system met or exceeded Australian OH&S requirements and all legislative obligations and obtain the necessary approvals prior to system handover.

For the Melbourne and Sydney systems, an FKI Logistex cross belt sorter was found to be the optimum solution for the large range of parcels and satchels specified.

The unique system configuration allows a mix of both parcels and satchels to be processed at a rate of up to 10,000 items/hour. All parcels and satchels are automatically cubed and weighed on the induction conveyors. Bar code scanning and video coding takes place prior to sortation to the destination chutes.

The Brisbane site is conveniently located adjacent to the airport in that city. Implementation was completed in 2008.

ICA also worked with AaE to help provide a custom designed ‘New Age Cage’, working within a strict ergonomic framework from AaE- sort cages were developed in conjunction with AaE.

These large, wheeled cages have a unique design for handling and sorting freight and received a high commendation at the 2008 SRCC Safety Awards.

Conducted by the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC), these awards were presented in late 2008, recognising excellence in workplace health and safety, rehabilitation and return to work achieved by individuals, companies and agencies operating within the Commonwealth OHS and workers compensation jurisdiction.

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