Bespoke solutions in the yard
03 September 2013
Loading and unloading equipment specialist, Thorworld Industries details some of the reasons why its customers require bespoke yardramps.
Highlighting the importance of tailor-made solutions to meet customers’ specific logistics needs, John Meale, managing director for Thorworld, says: "Safe and effective loading depends on providing the right equipment for the environment. Our standard range of yardramps is highly versatile, yet no two loading environments are exactly the same and there will always be customers who need something more exclusive."
According to Thorworld, yardramp dimensions are the biggest driver for bespoke design, with the nature of the customer’s goods necessitating wider ramps or longer ‘level-off’ sections. Meale explains: "A wide ramp is crucial for items such as agricultural, trailers or tracked equipment, whereas a longer ‘level-off’ section is often preferred for long products such as carpets or insulation panels."
The size or nature of the yard space might also preclude the use of a standard ramp. Shorter ramps, for example, are generally fixed to low docks allowing fork truck access between different levels. In other locations it might be difficult to place a standard yardramp, for example those with limited space – a problem Thorworld says can lead many companies into paying over the odds to resolve.
"It is surprisingly common practice for smaller/low volume sites where the site configuration makes unloading difficult, to hire a third party to unload incoming containers. Goods are then packed onto another vehicle, such as a curtain-sided trailer, which can be unloaded easily on the customer’s site. Obviously, this is not only a highly inefficient system, but the costs quickly mount up," explains John Meale.
"The use of a bespoke yardramp can solve this issue in a cost-effective manner, by providing customers with an on-site solution that fits within their infrastructure. Payback can be achieved within a matter of months against the costs of hiring third-party container destuffing services.”
Thorworld engineers carry out an assessment to determine the optimum ramp build to suit the space and the application, and the bespoke design process always begins with a site visit to plan an appropriate installation, based on specific customer requirements and the space available.
Meal continues: "We are committed to handling every step of the process in-house, promising that work is not subcontracted to outside agencies in order to maintain complete quality control throughout the life of the project."
Sometimes, rather than building a bespoke model from scratch, a standard yardramp will be modified to enhance certain aspects that will improve performance for the specific customer’s needs. In the past, Thorworld has specified castellated tops rails to allow unloading from the side, or used solid durbar flooring instead of the standard expanded metal decking for use with smaller wheeled equipment. Another popular option has been to bolt the ramp beside a loading dock to provide access from an external yard into a warehouse.
Whatever the solution, Thorworld’s design team creates a 3D CAD model to demonstrate to the customer the practical and cost-effective benefits of the proposed installation. Extensive testing at the design stage ensures that the bespoke solution will be robust enough to withstand regular warehouse use.
Once Thorworld and the customer are happy with the proposals, manufacturing is conducted at the company’s Chesterfield facility.
Another crucial aspect is installation and Thorworld will accommodate the customer’s regular working patterns into its schedule. Once in place, full operator training, and service and maintenance engineers, provide a comprehensive aftercare package.
As John Meale confirms, "The nature of bespoke solutions is that even experienced loading bay operators will be unfamiliar with the new equipment. Our training programme takes into account the specifics of the solution to ensure that customers learn the safest and most efficient way to use it."
He concludes: "While I wouldn’t say we’ve seen it all, the number of challenging requests we’ve successfully dealt with makes me confident that we can provide a practical and cost-effective solution to virtually any loading/unloading problem by using the long-term experience and specialist expertise of our team."