There are many organizations to turn to if you are looking for material handling equipment and systems. Companies large and small throughout the midwest act as manufacturers representatives, distributors, consolidators, integrators and plain old sales people.
What sets the IBT Engineering Services Group apart from all of these other alternatives is the fact that IBT doesn’t only supply material handling systems for customers, they use them in their own operations as well.
With a 125,000 square foot Central Distribution Center (CDC) in Merriam, Kansas, servicing 45 branches in 11 states, IBT has an effective, real-time, every day laboratory for material handling design, equipment, operation, innovation and control.
The CDC stocks 250,000 items that vary in size and weight from several ounces to several hundred pounds or more. Goods are stocked in 4,000 pallet bays and on shelves totaling 37,000 lineal feet – about seven miles. Products include bearings and power transmission products, industrial rubber belting, bulk hose and assemblies, industrial drives and controls, safety and health products, fluid power products and industrial automation components.
IBT’s distribution center is a busy place. They handle in excess of 40,000 orders in an average month. With 14 different conveyor models seamlessly integrated to handle the traffic, IBT has a system that delivers peak performance and productivity.
IBT is a distributor of Hytrol conveyors and use much of the Hytrol hardware in the CDC. Sophisticated control systems are needed to make the hardware perform and IBT has developed them for this application. A two door control panel houses the starters, PLC, and electrical communications that manage the flow of product throughout the facility.
IBT disproves the legend of the shoemaker’s children. They have shoes aplenty. In creating and constructing the conveyor system for their own use, they used the same thorough and disciplined information gathering routines and needs determination process that they bring to all potential systems.
Basically, despite the fact that it was their “own” warehouse, they went through all the determining questions: what kind; how much; how many; how often?Â And the repeated question that often elicits critical knowledge: why, why, why? They also studied and engineered the flow of work – order requirements, picking information, packing information.
Then they studied, planned, refined, designed, engineered, improved – and finally, put the system in place and put it to work.
The way orders flow through the process is smooth, technologically advanced, efficient and, according to Charlie Ensminger, marketing manager for IBT’s Conveyor Equipment Group, fun to watch.
“We have converted more than one lukewarm prospect into an enthusiastic buyer by giving them the guided tour of our system,” Ensminger acknowledges. “They see it operate with lots of functions and features and they are impressed.”
The warehouse is divided into four main picking zones. Pickers, using hand-held RF units, get orders that have been pre-sorted for ease and efficiency of picking. Picked merchandise goes into plastic totes, which are then placed on conveyors. Then, live roller and minimum-pressure accumulation conveyors move the totes to the incline conveyors.
There are actually two different styles of incline horizontal belt conveyors. The belts are fabricated in the IBT belt shop. Up the incline from Picking Zones 1 and 2, a live roller curve feeds a zero-pressure accumulation conveyor Orders picked in Zones 3 and 4 move onto an accumulation conveyor.
Totes then proceed along on parallel lines, down a roller bed decline and into the packing area. The orders are packed and placed in boxes on carousels and then transferred to chain-driven live roller and 30-degree powered spur, which moves the full cases onto the circulation loop. When the cases reach the correct staging area for the branches, they are taken off the line and palletized for shipping.
Hytrol was the main supplier for IBT’s system and the Company has preferred vendors that they use in most areas: motors, starters, drives, PLC, sensors and controls.
“However,” Chris Delury, manager of Engineering Services relates, “we realize that there are many suppliers to choose from. Our goal is to give the customer the best possible system. If we are working with a legacy system that uses specific vendors – or if the customer has an expressed preference for a brand of equipment – we make sure that they get what they want. We are selling a complete system solution – not just selling components off our shelves or from our vendors’ inventories.”
“We are here to deliver for our customers – and work to assure their complete satisfaction with any and every project we undertake for them. The key is our approach,” Delury continued. “It is a thorough one and we are proud of it.”
Whether it is in material handling systems, motion control systems, robotics or control systems, the IBT approach is a sound, thorough and comprehensive one. In includes numerous planned steps that run all the way from the first evaluation of the situation through installation of the completed system into an environment that includes trained operation personnel.
Steps along the way include:
Project Definition and System Concept
Assessing the scope of the project, developing a fully-integrated system solution, determining and defining resources and timelines, and documenting the operational and performance criteria for the completed system. A well-planned system is a successful system.
Putting the system in place by supervising the engineering, construction, contractors and sub-contractors, vendors, and customer relations. A supervised process leads to a satisfactory result.
System Design and Development
Performance, durability, consistency and ease of operations can be assured by proper engineering planning and development. IBT’s team of mechanical and electrical engineers will create a system that meets objective standards and perform in your work situation and environment.
It’s been designed. It’s been constructed. It is ready to be turned on and put into action. And to make sure it does work, IBT provides total support in the start-up, testing, debugging and commissioning of your system. The job is not complete until specified system standards and performance requirements are met.
The customer’s people must fully understand how to run their own system after IBT’s people have left. IBT will develop and administer a training program that will orient customer personnel in the running, maintaining and troubleshooting of the system, allowing the customer to be completely comfortable in dealing with day-to-day system operations.
When in doubt, read the manual. IBT systems come with complete documentation, including an Operation and Maintenance Manual that details the design, construction, operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of the system. It even includes spare parts specifications, CAD documents, assembly drawings, electrical schematics and software source code. It is delivered in both printed and electronic formats.
You are not alone. IBT is there for you when you need support. Whether it is replacement parts for maintenance or repair, consultation with the engineers who created and commissioned the system, on-site support or just answers to your questions, IBT promises that you will get the help you require. They’ll even access the system by modem to help diagnose the situation. IBT can also create and administer a customized maintenance and service program for your needs.
IBT has a network of skilled craftspeople who will handle the electrical and mechanical installation of the system. Under IBT supervision, this will assure that the manufacturers’ specifications, IBT’s standards and the project schedule are maintained. It is the best way to make sure that everything is done just right.
For more information about IBT Engineering services, and how they can help with your projects in material handling, motion control, robotics or control systems, contact IBT.