At our terminal RIHO Dodewaard, robots have been used for some time to fill and organize drums. This process, called automatic drum filling, is fully automated. Specialized robots accurately measure, dose and fill drums with the right amount of product. This ensures an efficient, accurate and safe process in an environment where large quantities of products are processed.
François de Vaal, Assistant Operations Manager at RIHO Dodewaard, says that the robots had already been implemented when he joined RIHO. He is currently getting to know all the people and processes and looking at where big gains can be made with minor adjustments. One thing that is certain is that the deployment of the robots is already a big win in itself.
Smart robots in action
De Vaal: “The whole process begins with the arrival of trucks including ISO containers or tankers that can be unloaded immediately. In the drum/IBC hall, where all the drums are, reach trucks drive around to take large pallets. These trucks are completely unmanned and drive around independently. Through white columns attached to poles, connection is made so the truck knows where to be and what to grab.”
The next step is filling IBCs (intermediate bulk containers) and drums. Filling IBCs is done against the wall by lances, which come out of land tanks or tankers. When the IBCs are filled, they are taken off the conveyor belt by shipping workers and placed in a hall for storage. Drums are filled, also by lances, three at a time on a conveyor belt. When the drums are filled—they then weigh about 220 kilograms—they are lifted off the conveyor belt by the robot and placed on a pallet. When there are four barrels on a pallet, an operator straps them down securely. Then, all the pallets are picked up again and placed in the warehouse.
“The high demand from customers makes the deployment of robots a perfect solution.”
Efficient and safe solution for customer demand
De Vaal continues: “The high demand from customers makes the deployment of robots a perfect solution. Products can go to the customer in smaller portions, facilitating storage and preventing the material from staying in the tankers. Small quantities can now be stored on the production floor. In addition, the use of robots at the terminal makes for a more efficient process, and the work is less prone to errors. All this also contributes to a safe way of working. In the unlikely event of a malfunction, the work is temporarily taken over manually.”
According to De Vaal, the use of robots is a very profitable investment. It seems likely that the success of the robots will lead to an expansion of the terminal. Thanks to the combination of available unused land and increasing customer demand, RIHO Dodewaard will experience further growth in the near future.