Recent product improvements by ETA Industries Inc., New Brighton, Pa., to the Rolflor Cargo Handling System (CHS) are reflected directly in the bottom line of their customers. Rolflor is a “live floor” conveyor built directly into tractor trailers used for short haul, quick-turn situations, where the fast load and unload of the trailer can result in substantial savings in both man hours and equipment use for the user.

Trailers incorporating the Rolflor CHS are typically used by suppliers to manufacturers using JIT strategies in production, or by a central warehouse servicing a network of local outlets — multiple Fortune 500 listed companies and the Defense Logistics Agency, for example. To achieve maximum return on investment, transit distance between locations will be short and time spent at either dock will be brief. Applications such as these are where the Rolflor really shine. A fully loaded 53-ft long trailer can be unloaded and ready for release from the dock in 4 min or less. For unloading, the entire load of cargo is pushed out of the trailer onto steel floor plates, which are required because concrete floors would not hold up to continuous wear. An alternative used by some firms is to have Rolflor unload directly onto their plant’s automated material handling system. Either way, the unloading does not require forklifts entering the trailer, saving needless wear and tear on the equipment.

Designed and built to order

As no two customers’ needs are exactly the same, each system is built to fit the demands of the application. However, any one customer might have two or more trailers fitted exactly the same. For instance, a bakery was leasing a fleet of ten trailers to transport loads of baked goods at its production facility to an offsite distribution center. The leased fleet was replaced by two Rolflor equipped trailers. Using the Rolflor semiautomatic indexing system when loading, the forklift operator places two stacked pallets on the left of the trailer, and another stacked pair beside it to the right. The load is then automatically indexed one pallet length into the trailer and stops; ready for the next row of pallets. The cycle is repeated until the trailer is fully loaded.

At the distribution center, each fully loaded trailer is backed to the dock door, plugged into dock power, and unloaded by the driver in about 4 min. The load is pushed out onto steel deck plates far enough into the building to allow closing the dock door behind it. At no time during loading or unloading is it necessary for a forklift to enter the trailer. In this particular instance, the two-trailer operation handles more than 100,000 pallets annually with payback from utilization of $190,000 from four fewer forklift operators on two shifts (approximately $160,000) plus savings of the leased equipment cost of $30,000 annually. Other examples can be found on the Rolflor website, at www.rolflor.com.