Loading/unloading equipment specialist Thorworld Industries Ltd has detailed some of the reasons why its customers require bespoke yardramps, in order to highlight the importance of tailor-made solutions to meet individual customers' specific logistics needs with a number of recent projects.
"Safe and effective loading depends on providing the right equipment for the environment," explains John Meale, Managing Director for Thorworld. "Our standard range of yardramps is highly versatile, yet no two loading environments are exactly the same and there will always be customers who need something more exclusive."
According to Thorworld, yardramp dimensions are the biggest driver for bespoke design, with the nature of the customer's goods necessitating wider ramps or longer 'level-off' sections. "A wide ramp is crucial for items such as agricultural, trailers or tracked equipment, whereas a longer 'level-off' section is often preferred for long products such as carpets or insulation panels."
The size or nature of the yard space might also preclude the use of a standard ramp. Shorter ramps, for example, are generally fixed to low docks allowing fork truck access between different levels. Other locations might be difficult to place a standard yardramp in, for example those with limited space – a problem Thorworld says can lead many companies into paying over the odds to resolve.
"It is surprisingly common practice for smaller/low volume sites where the site configuration makes unloading difficult, to hire a third party to unload incoming containers. Goods are then packed onto another vehicle, such as a curtain sided trailer, which can then be unloaded easily on the customer's own site. Obviously, this is not only a highly inefficient system, but the costs quickly mount up," explains John Meale.
"The use of a bespoke yardramp can solve this issue in a highly cost-effective manner, by providing customers with an on-site solution that fits within their infrastructure. Payback can be achieved within a matter of months against the costs of hiring third-party container destuffing services."
It is essential that Thorworld engineers carry out an assessment to determine the optimum ramp build to suit the space and the application, and the bespoke design process always begins with a site visit to plan an appropriate installation, based on specific customer requirements and the space available. "We are committed to handling every step of the process in-house, promising that work is not subcontracted to outside agencies in order to maintain complete quality control throughout the life of the project," confirms John Meale.
Sometimes, rather than building a bespoke model from scratch, a standard yardramp will be modified to enhance certain aspects that will improve performance for the specific customer's needs. In the past, Thorworld has specified castellated tops rails to allow unloading from the side, or used solid durbar flooring instead of the standard expanded metal decking for use with smaller wheeled equipment. Another popular option to date has been to bolt the ramp beside a loading dock to provide access from an external yard into a warehouse.
Whatever the best solution, Thorworld's design team then creates a 3D CAD model, to demonstrate the practical and cost-effective benefits of the proposed installation to the customer. Extensive testing at the design stage ensures that the bespoke solution will be robust enough to withstand regular warehouse usage.
Once Thorworld and the customer are happy with the proposals, manufacturing is conducted at the company's Chesterfield facility. This is where Thorworld's build team confirms its ingenuity in being able to meet the often leftfield concepts devised by the designers so that customer needs can be fully met, if not exceeded.
Another crucial aspect is installation, where Thorworld's engineering efficiency enables it to accommodate the customer's regular working patterns into its schedule. Once in place, full operator training, and service and maintenance engineers, provide a comprehensive aftercare package for long-term peace of mind.
As John Meale confirms, "The nature of bespoke solutions is that even experienced loading bay operators will be unfamiliar with the new equipment. Our training programme takes into account the specifics of the solution to ensure that customers learn the safest and most efficient way to use it."
After over 30 years in the industry, Thorworld believes it has the expertise to deal with even the most unusual demands. "While I wouldn't say 'we've seen it all,' the number of challenging requests we've successfully dealt with makes me confident that we can provide a practical and cost-effective solution to virtually any loading/unloading problem by utilising the long-term experience and specialist expertise of our team."