Manufacturers’ Monthly paid a visit to the Actrol facility in Melbourne to learn more about the importance of safety in a warehouse and why a good strap device makes all the difference.
Actrol is a leading wholesaler of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment with a network of more than 60 branches across Australia, and one of the many companies owned by the Reece Group.
Reece Australia owns a number of strategic businesses in areas of HVAC-R, irrigation, onsite and civil industries; in addition to being Australia’s largest supplier of bathroom and plumbing products.
Many of Actrol’s products are bulky and heavy, including refrigeration hardware, condensing units and compressors. Storing and handling these products in a warehouse could be a challenge because of their size and weight making them unstable.
“Most of these parts are on pallets and if you try to access them, and if the pallet is shrink- wrapped, you would need to remove the shrink wrapping to get to the desired product and then re-do the wrapping before placing it back,” Gerard Webb, safety and wellbeing coordinator, Reece Australia, told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
To get around this, the company has found a practical solution in the VELCRO® Brand LOGISTRAP® fastener, a strap solution that eliminates the need to re-wrap any palleted item once it has been received in the warehouse.
These fasteners are nylon- based and have a metal buckle that offers flexibility and safety in securing goods in the warehouse environment. They are also cost- effective as they are re-usable, creating considerable saving in plastic wraps and shrink wrap over the long term.
“With the VELCRO® Brand LOGISTRAP® fastener, it is much easier to access the products and it is a legislative requirement that any product stored on pallets should be locked into the wrapping and secured to the pallet. In this case anything above 1.5 metres stored on a racking system needs to be secured with either plastic or steel strapping or stretch wrapping,” Webb said.
Ever since Reece found out how convenient and cost-effective it was to replace shrink-wrap and plastic wraps with these fasteners, they have been using it across all of their businesses and distribution centres.
Reece Australia first became aware of Velcro Companies’ strapping solutions when they purchased Actrol along with Metalflex, an air-conditioning, ducting and componentry company – about four years ago and found that Actrol had already been using the VELCRO® Brand LOGISTRAP® fasteners in their warehouses.
They then instigated the use of these fasteners via there OH&S assessments and set up a (SOP) standard operating procedure across the group.
“We thought, ‘wow, this is pretty good’. So, we contacted our distributor Kleenpack, who was coincidentally also a distributor for Velcro, and begun using the product throughout their distribution centres.
“Kleenpack have been supplying Reece with anything from toilet paper through to tapes and cleaning products, packaging lines and janitorial lines for some years and we came onboard as a Velcro distributor,” Don Feiam, senior account manager, Kleenpack told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
“The VELCRO® Brand had had an eye on Reece for a while with the view of getting in there with these straps, and then we went out there and because Reece was already
our client, we started looking after Reece as Velcro Companies doesn’t approach clients directly. They go out through distributors. So, we’ve been putting their product
all around Australia on to Reece,” Feiam said.
“We first started using the fasteners at twelve of our branches but from there it has now gone to all of their businesses,” Webb said.
“So, when we sell bathroom supplied through our more than 450 showrooms, customers engaged in building construction purchase supplies for the entire house. But if say the plumber asks for delivery of parts of the order for bathroom installation, we can easily remove the products from the packed order and dispatch them separately. Before this, when we used shrink- straps, they would be all strapped together, making the process more time-consuming,” he explained.
Velcro Companies, having more than 50 years of expertise in design, process, and logistics, offers a diverse portfolio of products that incorporate hook and loop technologies. These straps which now conform to the following standard – to AS2400.11., are designed as load restraint stabilising and centralising strap.
“Whenever you place goods on layered tiered racking system above 1.5 meters high, the regulations require them to be restrained with either plastic or steel straps or stretch wraps,” Lee Rufus, account manager, Velcro, told Manufacturer’s’ Monthly.
“The fasteners provide an alternative to those mediums which is reusable and re-adjustable, allowing you to save time and money. This is because instead of cutting the plastic or steel strap and removing the stretch wrap, you can now simply take the desired product out and wrap the pallet again using the same strap.”
“The process is also cost-efficient, as you can use the same strap up to a thousand times or more, saving a lot of money in stretch-wrap costs over the long term,” Rufus added.
“It has been demonstrated that using VELCRO® Brand LOGISTRAP® fasteners for a certain product creates about a 30 per cent saving in time compared to using stretch wraps for the same product. When you’ve got a number of pallets that need consolidation, stack or store or move about, 30 per cent reduction in time from one pallet gives you the ability to do a lot more a lot quicker and you can save time in manning and labour and costs or, if you need to ship things out urgently, you can do all that internal consolidation,” Feiam said.
Velcro Companies currently offers the straps in two sizes of 50 mm and 100 mm width and five meters in length. While the five- metre length is the standard product offered by the company, Rufus said Velcro Companies is capable of producing varying lengths as per orders, albeit for specified minimum order quantities.
“Reece currently has plumbing products that are oddly-shaped as well as solar panels that are bulky. They have asked for customised straps that are seven meters in length and we are currently trying to work that out,” Rufus said.
While the fasteners are best suited for warehouse internal environment, Velcro Companies does have the VELCRO® Brand Heavy Duty Tie Downs, which is better suited for use in external environments and heavier applications. These fasteners conform to the required – AS / NZS 4380 – C3.2 + C3.3 standards.
With a breaking strength of 1000N, Rufus said the strap system was basically not meant for handling and lifting, but mainly for stabilising goods on the pallets and forklifts.
“The VELCRO® Brand LOGISTRAP® fasteners is rated, so for example if you are restraining four 240L drums of chemicals, those drums by themselves are pretty heavy. You’ve got four in a pallet and you put the straps around the top or around the middle of the product. The strap itself is rated about 100kg, so it’s light-duty and meant to be attached firmly.
So, it’s not like your load-binder strap where you want to send out a pallet load of bricks. It is an internal strap not meant for shipping or transporting products outside on the road, purely for movement and transporting product internally within a warehouse or a distribution centre,” Rufus said.
“When there is forklift movement on the site, the forklifts have got a particular speed rating that they are not allowed to go over. In this case, they are generally picking things up, putting things down in a careful motion and the strap itself is intended to reduce the movement and shifting of product. If something happens or if something moves and there’s a bit of instability, the centre of gravity is low and the straps just provide that stabilisation factor, so the weight doesn’t quite correlate on the actual weight of the product that it is restraining,” he said.
Safety in the focus
Safety is another area where VELCRO® Brand LOGISTRAP® fasteners help warehouse managers and material handling personnel.
Velcro Companies currently offers straps in a bright florescent orange colour, which helps them to stand out and help warehouse managers confirm that goods are secured properly.
“Previously, some people weren’t as compliant, so there were cases when the shrink strap was cut, and staff had forgotten to re-shrink wrap it or neglected it as it was very time-consuming,” Webb said. “Also, with these fasteners being bright orange in colour, they are easily noticed by safety regulators and inspectors when they do routine checks,” he said.
“The safety aspect is more or less done from what we can see as done on a site-by-site assessment, not only with Reece but with a number of other companies. Each company has its own OH&S committees that deem what is practical, what is safe and what to use for due diligence,” Rufus said.
Rufus mentioned that these companies follow the regulations in their state and government regulations to make sure that they meet those standards. However, he pointed out that there are a few cases where compliance managers have come in and asked Velcro Companies to check to make sure that is suitable and appropriate.
“Once we have done the checks and those reports have come back and said ‘yes, it’s suitable and appropriate’, we then give the go ahead. So, it’s ticking off those OH&S requirements on a site-by-site basis,” he added.
Ongoing popularity of the VELCRO® Brand LOGISTRAP® fasteners
Rufus added that the popularity and the effectiveness of the fasteners as a product is sufficient proof that it’s suitable and gets the job done right. “Companies wouldn’t be purchasing them or re-ordering them if they were not saving time and money,” said Rufus.
He mentioned that the icing on the cake is the environmental aspect of the products. “At the end of the day, you’re cutting down on landfill with plastic wrapping and stretch wrap that you’re not using, which is a good thing.”
“If the VELCRO® Brand LOGISTRAP® fasteners were not providing those benefits overall and providing a good solution, companies wouldn’t continue – not only Reece, but other companies in the marketplace wouldn’t continue to purchase them.”