13 Apr 2024

Challenges of intralogistics automation

Loadhog launches new container for automation

Loadhog, a leading packaging manufacturer, has announced it is launching the Autotote 64, a container designed specifically to meet the challenges of intralogistics automation.

Loadhog says recognising the worldwide trend towards automated storage and distribution – and, in particular, the rapid growth in mobile automation – as businesses seek to future-proof their supply chains, it is expanding its automation range with the launch of a brand-new tote.

The company says the patented Autotote 64 has been engineered to run smoothly and quietly on automated systems, while maintaining a high level of strength and durability. “We began developing products for automated systems back in 2021,” says Martin Baker, Senior Design Engineer at Loadhog, “and launched our Autotote 6545 in 2022. Having supplied over 350,000 of our Autototes to customers in a range of industries across Europe, we’ve now fed all our expertise and experience into designing a new standard container that is engineered specifically for use with AMRs, conveyors, shuttle storage systems and other ASRS technologies.”

Loadhog says the Autotote 64 features a unique single-shot, double-skin base that makes it completely smooth inside and out. Achieved by moulding instead of welding, this design makes the container both lighter in weight and less expensive to manufacture. The product’s chamfered, cantilever base edge reduces deflection and provides a degree of flex to ensure a smoother and quieter transition between linking conveyors, during directional change and over rollers. Meanwhile, diagonal ribbing strengthens the base and the fully closed underside protects conveyor systems, helping to save costs in terms of belt maintenance, while also improving grip and speed. The Autotote 64 also has several strengthened interaction points to optimise movement within an automated shuttle system

With a footprint of 600 x 400 mm, the Autotote 64 is available in two heights, 270 mm and 320 mm. It is suitable for loads up to 50 kg and temperatures ranging from -20 to +40˚C. In addition to the benefits provided by its base, the container features hollow corners that deliver strong impact properties, while also aiding smooth conveying around corners. The new container also has offset drainage holes, designed in accordance with the FM Global datasheet 8-34

Loadhog says in line with its ambition to achieve net zero by 2030, the Autotote 64 features recycled material to avoid UK plastic tax and customers can opt for production using 100% recycled material and still achieve excellent sound performance and base stiffness. “Sustainability is further enhanced by the wall thickness of 2.3 mm,” explains Baker. “This means less material is required for production and results in a lower product weight, yet without compromising on strength and durability. In this way, the Autotote 64 proves a valuable addition to the circular economy.”

The Autotote 64 is available with either closed handles or open ones with large internal radius for ergonomic handling. Identification options include in-mould labelling in a choice of 10 locations. Dividers can be used to maximise the number of SKUs within each tote, with a choice of widthways, lengthways or half-width dividers for optimum versatility in up to 8 sections. The dividers feature a flexible edge for easy removal and, unlike competitor versions, do not feature interlocking slits, which can be prone to weakness. Branding options for the Autotote 64 include printing or embossing, while the tote itself can be specified in a range of colours besides the standard grey.

Loadhog says construction will soon be underway for its brand-new production facility at its site in Obernai, 10 miles southwest of Strasbourg. Due to open in 2025, the new factory will ensure shorter lead times for Loadhog’s European customers, while also reducing the company’s carbon footprint. Due to the high demand for automated intralogistics solutions on the Continent, the first product to roll off the new manufacturing line will be the Autotote 64

Company info: Loadhog