迎接未来不是无作为等待,更是去主动创造。卡尔玛近日与瑞典Umeå设计学院展开合作,共同探讨新型物料装卸方案。这一合作的开展有助于公司对未来自动化流动机械设备的研发。

2017年10月,12名来自先进产品设计项目的学生以全新设计师视角探讨了卡尔玛业务并提出新的解决方案。不久之后,2018年1月,他们为卡尔玛呈现了几项有趣的研究结果。

Elias Thaddäus Pfuner的空箱装卸解决方案赢得了2018年Core77设计大奖的学生组商业设备奖冠军。其获奖方案创造性地提出了一个奇妙的自下而上堆垛集装箱的装卸方式。

在方案设计前期,12名学生开始研究并收集信息。为更好地了解方案设计的业务和环境,他们前往汉堡港进行实地参观和学习,此外,他们还参观了瑞典锯木厂和卡尔玛在波兰的生产基地。

在Pfuner设想的方案中,集装箱将不再按照传统方式从另外一个集装箱顶部进行起升,而是自下而上进行堆垛,从底部一层层地叠加。

创新思考

负责此次学员合作项目的卡尔玛流机研发项目经理Per-Erik Johansson 表示:“我们向这些学生提出的挑战是要提高生产力,而Elias迅速意识到装箱装载需要占用庞大的空间,他提出的自下而上的集装箱装卸方式是一个完全创新的解决方案。”

此次合作的结果N-9方案是一个全自动的空箱堆高机解决方案,在装卸40英尺的集装箱时至少可节省60%的空间,在某些情况下甚至可以达到86%。

Pfuner表示:“通常新想法在一开始并不会得到认可。但卡尔玛的工作人员很乐观并鼓励我进一步研究这一构想,以确保其实行的稳定性。”

Johansson总结到:“对卡尔玛而言,为业务注入新活力非常重要。这种新活力表现在采纳新的想法,但我们也期待吸引富有创意的新同事加入,我们愿意向学生们展示卡尔玛的多元性。”

The future doesn’t just arrive, we create it. That is why Kalmar recently joined forces with the Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden to brainstorm new material handling solutions that would help the company to develop the future automated generation of mobile equipment.

In October 2017, the twelve students in the University’s advanced product design program were asked to look at Kalmar’s business with fresh designer eyes and come up with new solutions. A short time later in January 2018, Kalmar was presented with several interesting takes on their business.

A solution by Elias Thaddäus Pfuner for handling empty containers went on to win a commercial equipment award in the student category of the Core77 Design Awards 2018. His winning concept was a fantastical new idea to stack containers from the bottom up. It was a completely new way to approach handling empty containers.

“We wanted the students to take a fresh look at things, and that’s certainly what we got."

Literally upside down

A fresh and creative look was exactly what Kalmar wanted from the project.

“The academic world is eager to work with our industry, and vice versa, and we thought this was a good fit,” says Per-Erik Johansson, Project Manager at R&D Kalmar Mobile Equipment who was the co-operation coordinator at Kalmar’s end.

“We gave the students guidelines on how their solutions need to be connected to the new generation of products, materials handling, and we said that it would have to solve a real problem our customers encounter.”

The students’ work began with research and information gathering. They took a field trip to the Hamburg harbour to get a better understanding of the business and the environment for which they were asked to design solutions. They also visited a sawmill in Sweden and a Kalmar production site in Poland.

“Most of us didn’t know much about Kalmar’s business, so those trips were very useful. Afterwards, we did research together, in four groups of three, and then shared the information,” says Pfuner, who received his bachelor’s degree in his native Austria before enrolling in the Umeå Institute of Design last fall.

After the research phase, Pfuner got down to work on his idea.

“I learned that in harbours it isn’t just time that is money. Indeed, operations have to go faster,  but space is also money. Handling empty containers is not just a core business, it’s a necessity. I wanted to figure out how to increase the space for handling them,” he says.

Then he turned everything upside down - literally.

With Pfuner’s solution, instead of stacking containers the traditional way, lifting one on top of the other, the empty containers are stacked from the bottom up, adding a new layer to the bottom.

“We wanted the students to take a fresh look at things, and that’s certainly what we got,” says Johansson.

Thinking outside the box

“The challenge we presented to them was to improve productivity. Elias quickly grasped that loading empty containers uses a lot of space, and his idea of doing it from the bottom up was a completely outside the box approach,” he adds.

The result: N-9, a fully autonomous empty container handler that would free at least 60 percent and in some cases 86 percent more space for 40ft containers.

Ideas alone aren’t enough, though. Pfuner produced a Lego prototype and later a scale model to go with his presentation using high-resolution animations to illustrating how the solution could work in the field.

“Initial reactions were mixed, which is common when completely new ideas are presented, but overall, the Kalmar people were optimistic and encouraged me to work on the idea further to make sure the construction was solid,” he says.

Since the students were industrial designers, they tackled the assignment as designers as well as engineers.

“Elias’s solution shows promise and potential, but naturally, it requires further development and raw engineering to determine  how to lift eight containers and push a ninth one under them. Further business case calculations also need to be made,” Johansson says.

“The development takes time and money. For now, it is just a concept, not yet a fully engineered solution,” Pfuner adds.

A winning concept

The idea is definitely a great one. In June, Pfuner’s N-9 submission won the student category in the Commercial Equipment Award of the Core77 Design Awards, founded by Core77, a prestigious online industrial design magazine. Pfuner is naturally pleased with the win, even if he couldn’t attend the official awards gala.

“I did get a trophy and job and internship interviews with companies,” he says.

While Kalmar’s current partnership with Umeå Institute of Design has ended, Johansson says that the company wants to continue to work with academia in the future.

“It’s important for us to get new input on our business. The input comes in part as ideas, but we also want to attract smart new colleagues to work with us, and we want to show students how multi-faceted Kalmar is,” he concludes.

Any way you look at it.