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QVC Auto-loaders – Hands Free Vehicle Loading

The Newland Auto-loader has been a standard model in the Newland range of vehicle loading/unloading conveyors since its conception and manufacture in 1990 when fifteen units were supplied to Freemans in Peterborough.

Since then we have supplied Auto-Loaders to various companies in the UK and worldwide for loading ‘catalogue sacks’ and mail bags, including QVC. Newland were first approached in 2007 by QVC regarding the automatic loading of cartons into trailers. Newland initially were a little cautious, as the Auto-Loader is a well-established and proven design for loading mail sacks and catalogue bags but had never been used for loading cartons/boxes. Mail sacks and catalogue sacks have a natural ‘angle of repose’ when loaded on top of one another whereas cartons/boxes behave totally different, especially as the cartons at QVC are of varying size and weight. Trials were carried out at the QVC distribution centre in Knowlsley using one of the Newland multi-telescopic units from the hire fleet. Fitted with sensors and mounted on a mobile twin powered chassis to simulate an Auto-loader telescopic unit with slewing left/right and raise/lower movement. Working closely with John Pickavance Engineering Maintenance and Project Manager of QVC and his engineering team, trials were carried out over a four month period. The trials proved to be very successful, going through a number of Auto-Fill cycle patterns and using all the different carton sizes and weights. From the information gathered, a program using Siemens software was designed specifically for the loading of cartons/boxes to avoid any damage and give a minimum of 80% trailer fill.

QVC have recently installed a fourth Auto-Loader. The Auto-Fill program has evolved from the first machine installed at QVC to the current ‘Waterfall Effect’ vehicle fill pattern. The Auto-Fill cycle starts with a low level left/right sweep of the vehicle building up to the ‘Waterfall’. Sensors mounted on the front telescopic boom in a specially designed pvc casing detect product build-back, vehicle walls & ceiling. The control panel panel is fitted with an HMI touch screen showing graphic’s with:

  • ‘Real Time’ Vehicle Fill.
  • Auto-Fill Cycle Complete
  • Machine Diagnostic fault check of motors & sensors 

The HMI screen can also include machine maintenance schedule & manual

When the Auto–Loader has completed its fill cycle it automatically fully retracts and lowers to its ‘At Rest’ position. Giving an output signal at the same to a flashing beacon from the control panel to indicate fill-cycle complete.

The Auto-Loader is mounted on a powered slewing chassis to move in an arc left/right & right/left.

The QVC Auto-Loaders are also fitted on two additional chassis. Traversing chassis to enable the Auto-loader to operate on several doorways and a forward/reverse chassis.

John Pickavance commented:

‘’We are extremely pleased with the performance of the Auto-Loaders. Cartons are received onto the Auto-Loader belt from a tilt tray sorter. Initially the project was contracted for a minimum of 2000 items per trailer, we are now averaging 6500 items. ’’ 

Mrs Lynn Kerfoot MBE Managing Director of Newland Engineering commented:

‘’We worked together with the engineering department of QVC as a team. The relationship & trust between our two companies was very good & ultimately very beneficial to both. We can now offer true ‘Hands Free’ loading of non palletised cartons to end users & also system integrators. From high bay storage to vehicle despatch’’.