It’s almost 12 months since CHEP, the world’s leading provider of pallet and container pooling solutions, announced the opening of its state-of-the-art pallet repair facility at Severnside, near Bristol in the UK. The service centre at the eight-acre location on the new Central Park development replaced CHEP’s service centre nearby in Avonmouth and represented an investment of £4.6 million. The facility is equipped with the most advanced automatic fault-detection and repair equipment available.
The Severnside facility is manned by 95 full-time CHEP employees working across a three shift pattern, ensuring a 24-hour, seven-day operation. It can process approximately 100,000 pallets a week with most of the inspection, repair and repainting process occurring automatically. The service centre features the latest laser system, which checks the pallets for damage while an automatic cutter identifies and removes broken pallet components. A robot then fits new pallet components as required and nails them securely in place.
CHEP Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Howard Wigham, said: “As a business, CHEP helps its customers to move, store and protect their goods through the supply chain in a cost-effective, safe and environmentally sound way. The new site at Severnside strongly reflects our overall business ethos and will improve platform consistency and quality for our customers.”
While CHEP’s site in Manchester has the automatic inspection system, Severnside is the first to combine it with the repair technology. The new system has additional capabilities, such as being able to automatically remove and replace top and bottom boards and is also able to remove the internal support “stringer” components that hold the top and bottom decks of the pallet together, a process that was previously manual. The stringer is the board in the centre of the pallet between the top boards and the blocks, which are difficult and time consuming to repair manually. Through the use of the latest equipment the Severnside plant is capable of running at very high speeds, processing up to 1,200 pallets per hour at its peak.
Further improvements at Severnside have included reduced turnaround time for vehicles providing collections and returns, as a result of three extra lanes, which improve segregation of vehicles entering and exiting the site. In addition, drivers can exchange paperwork with the service office without leaving the cab, reducing queuing times while improving driver safety.
The new building has also been designed to minimise its carbon footprint and reduce operating costs. Rainwater is collected and used to wash pallets as well as to flush toilets onsite, while thermal panels on the building’s roof are used to heat the water. Motion-sensitive passive infrared lights ensure electricity consumption is kept to a minimum, while 12% of roof space provides natural light, further reducing energy consumption while creating a more pleasant working environment.
The increased use of automation has minimised manual handling and repetitive operations while improving health and safety. Segregation of people and vehicles inside and outside the building also contributes to a safer working environment.
Kevin Galvin, Program Manager for CHEP UK, Ireland & Benelux, said: “This site clearly leads the field technically, and includes many features to improve both the performance and welfare of our staff. In addition, the whole pallet inspection and repair process is quicker as all the work takes place on a continuous production line, whereas previously batches of pallets would have to be moved from one line to another. The site is also one of the first in the UK to comply with BREEAM’s tough 2011 environmental accreditation scheme for industrial buildings.”