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CASE STUDY: Flooring manufacturer accelerates shuttle cycle between factory and warehouse with moving floor system

Finding new ways to optimise supply chain and logistics operations is crucial for companies today to maintain a competitive edge. Shuttling manufactured goods between the factory and the warehouse can be a significant drain on resources and one that is often overlooked. But not by prominent flooring manufacturer Bjelin.

As part of plans to future-proof its operation in Sweden, the company enlisted the help of Joloda Hydraroll, a global leader in loading solutions, and its Finnish distributor, NWE Network Engineering, to streamline the loading and unloading process, reduce carbon emissions, and uphold the highest safety standards.

Future-proofing for rapid growth

One of the world’s largest flooring producers, Bjelin was founded in 2016 by Darko Pervan, the Swedish-Croatian inventor and entrepreneur who developed and patented the first mechanical floor-locking system. In the eight years since, Bjelin has grown into a global company with more than 2,500 employees. The company’s biggest markets are Europe, the USA, and Asia, where it predominantly sells hardened wood, parquet (engineered wood), and herringbone flooring.

The wood used to manufacture its products is FSC-certified and responsibly sourced from Spacva forest in Croatia, Europe’s largest continuous oak forest. Bjelin has five factories located nearby in Croatia and one factory in Sweden.

To continue its rapid growth trajectory, Bjelin identified the need to future-proof its Swedish factory and operations. The facility has gone from producing 40,000 m2 in 2016 to 2.2 million m2 in 2022, and Bjelin wanted to create the capacity to produce up to five million m2 in the future.

Transporting heavy pallets of various shapes and sizes

As part of the future-proofing project, Bjelin required a loading solution that could streamline the transportation process between its factory and a newly-built warehouse. Reflecting on the project, Pär Jönsson, supply chain director at Bjelin, commented: “Our expansion plan is quite immense and we could foresee future challenges with unloading and loading.

“We needed to find a solution to help the process become as swift as possible, whilst also taking out some of the forklift truck traffic from the loading bays.”

Bjelin’s factory is located in Viken, Sweden, which is 23 km away from its new warehouse in Helsingborg. The company must constantly load and transport raw materials from the warehouse to the factory, then return pallets of finished wooden flooring to the combined warehouse and distribution centre.

Bjelin produces circa 200 pallets per day of various-sized finished goods, which amount to between seven and 10 trailer loads. It is estimated that manually side-loading and unloading the trailers with forklift trucks would have taken between 35-45 minutes at both the factory and the warehouse.

In addition, each trailer load weighs about 20 tonnes (20 pallets at one tonne each), so securing the loads in the trailer with ratchet straps is essential. However, this process is also time-consuming and labour-intensive. Due to the varying shapes and sizes of the pallets, truck drivers need to secure the loads by manually threading and tightening ratchet straps to the trailer, which adds to driver waiting times.

Moving floor system with automated cargo securing

After getting in touch with Joloda Hydraroll, a thorough loading assessment was undertaken to understand the challenges Bjelin was facing. The assessment took into consideration the new operation’s loading and unloading processes, the journey time between the factory and the warehouse, and the types of pallets being transported.

Joloda Hydraroll proposed its Moving Floor System, an innovative automated trailer-loading solution with motorised and adjustable slats to accommodate palletised items of different shapes and sizes. It is designed to optimise logistics operations by reducing the need for forklift trucks and additional manual labour during the loading process. To minimise the time spent securing the loads, Joloda Hydraroll also worked with its partner NWE and provider of the FIX Truck-Safe System, a cargo-securing system with automatic lashing and re-tightening.

Jönsson explained: “After we identified a solution, we got in touch with Joloda Hydraroll for a quotation and looked at the size and scope of the business to gauge whether they’d be a fit for us. One of the most important things was that we buy and use equipment from well-known suppliers that can provide a solution and a service that we can lean on going forward. They also had some interesting references in Sweden.

“We are always looking for bigger companies that can grow, support, and handle different challenges; Joloda ticked these boxes. We got a good connection with their staff, and we liked that they showed an interest and came to look at our premises to find a solution that would suit us.”

Fast and efficient loading

The implementation of the moving floor system brought about a transformation in Bjelin’s logistics operations, and the new automated loading process offered several key benefits.

  1. Streamlining operations between Viken and Helsingborg: The system’s motorised conveyor-like slats move pallets in and out of the trailer, enabling a full trailer to be loaded or unloaded within three minutes. In addition, it now takes just one minute to secure loads using the load securing system and only a few seconds to release them.

This combined reduction in loading and unloading time has allowed for more loads to be shuttled in a shorter period and with only a few members of staff. The complete shuttle cycle between the factory and the warehouse is more cost-effective as a result and now takes just one hour. This is a 70% reduction in the time it would have taken had Bjelin not implemented an automated loading system.

  1. Upholding a clean track record of no accidents: With no forklifts required during the trailer loading process, the loading bay is a safe working environment for all members of staff and visitors. Fencing has been installed around the loading docks in both the factory and the warehouse, and emergency stops, light guards, and scanners have been fitted to prevent staff from coming into contact with the system while it is in operation.
  1. Reducing the environmental impact of transportation: In line with Bjelin’s sustainability ethos, the loading system lowers carbon emissions by:

a. Optimising trailer space to get the most out of every journey.

b. Reducing truck idling time while it is being loaded and unloaded.

c. Reducing the number of forklift trucks in operation in the factory and warehouse.

  1. Optimising factory and warehouse space: Palletised goods no longer need to be stored near the loading bay doors ready to be loaded onto a returning trailer. Instead, they can be loaded onto alternate loading docks in preparation for the trailer’s return, freeing up space.
  1. Indoor Loading: Loading is now completed indoors within a sealed loading bay, meaning cold or wet weather conditions cannot interfere or risk goods sustaining damage while being transported to the trailer. Air conditions in both the factory and warehouse are also easier to control and regulate without the loading bay doors open, and less energy is required to maintain a consistent temperature.

Conclusion

Through its commitment to innovation, Bjelin now stands at the forefront of modern logistics. Implementing Joloda Hydraroll’s Moving Floor System combined with NWE’s FIX Truck-Safe System to automate loading and unloading processes between Viken and Helsingborg has improved efficiency, increased productivity, and created a more sustainable and scalable logistics operation fit for future growth.