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(Covers: Introduction to Cube, Cube data entry, Cube Shipper Database)

8.1 Introduction.

The Cube module will produce a load specification for the packing of identical units (e.g. Cases) within any cuboid shaped outer. 

At first glace this might appear similar to the analysis carried out in Palletise mode - Cases packed within the length, width and height limits of a pallet. However Cube mode solutions will utilise (if valid) any combination of layers so as to maximise fill.

Thus a case of size X * Y by * Z may yield a solution where (say) 4 layers with X vertical; 2 Layers with Y vertical and 3 layers with Z vertical are used.

In contrast Palletise mode solutions normally use just one vertical dimension throughout the pallet stack or, on occasion when selected, one vertical dimension for the majority of the stack with a different orientation top layer.

In this section we will refer to the inner unit as a case, and the outer cuboid shape as a shipper. Cube mode can cater for orientation constraints on the case, and can accommodate a single top layer in another orientation.

Cube might be used to:

8.2 Cube Mode Operation.

Having selected 'New Run' from the entry menu Cube may be selected. The data then requested is similar to that in other operating modes. It requires:

The three case dimensions which may be integer, or non-integer with 1 decimal place. Each value must lie in the range 2mm to 2500mm. Details of which dimension (if any) must be placed vertically. 

The weight of each case in Kg. (0.0 Kg to 10000 Kg) and the number of primary units forming a case.

Having completed entries and selected Continue you are then able to specify the dimensions of the load space on Screen 3c:

Initial suggested values will be presented which can be edited.

The length of the outer (Shipper) (in the range 10mm to 32000mm)

The width of the outer (a value between 10mm and the length value given).

The height of the outer (in the range 10mm to 9500mm).

The weight limit (Kg) of the loaded unit (in the range 1 to 32000 Kg).

Two other tick-boxes may be available.

The first of these - Cube Database - will only be available if a database of shipper sizes has already been created. This is discussed later in this section.

The second - Top Layer Orientation - will be available whenever one of the case details entered on the previous screen has been stipulated ato be vertical. If you tick this box then solutions using the stipulated orientation vertical for all layers, except for the top layer if this is advantageous.

Selecting pack will tackle the given problem and present you with the solution. Problems with up to 500 items per layer can be tackled using this module. A typical results screen is shown below.

In the above instance we stipulated that the 100 dimension must be vertical in all layers. If this had not been the case then the following results would have been shown:

This confirms that even with re-orientation no improvement would have been possible.

Both of the above screens relate to the optimal packing of a single case size within a single shipper size. Thus there is only one solution and this will already be highlighted. We can select Layout to view the available layouts for this problem. Here the case size is large and a single simple layout is available to achieve the maximum packing.

In many instances there may be multiple optimal layouts available, and if any of the 3 orientations can be vertical then, as described at the start of this section, a number of layers using each of the 3 case orientations (or any 2) may provide the optimal solution. In such a solution you would need to pick layouts (from those available) for each of the orientations used.

Having selected the layout(s) to use you are then presented with the standard View / Print selection screen (Screen 7). Here as usual additional notes may be added. In Cube mode a single report provides all the information needed on the packing solution selected. As with Palletise and Collation modes the Store module can save specifications for subsequent recall. The Save option will be amongst those available to you if this has been purchased by you.

8.3 The PALLETMANAGER Cube database.

The above discussion of the operation of Cube mode has assumed that a given case is to be packed into a shipper of stated dimensions. In some instances you might which to identify which of a current set of possible shippers (perhaps ones currently in use for other products) should be utilised. The Cube Database facility allows the case details entered on the Cube data input screens to be run not only against the single shipper size entered, but also against a database of other shipper sizes.

Database Creation.

The creation and modification of the Cube database is carried out by selecting Cube Shipper Base from the opening PALLETMANAGER menu. Having done so you are able to create a database with details of up to 500 (previously 200) standard shippers. A typical screen is shown below:

The database contains a description, internal dimensions and a weight limit. It might be used to hold standard distribution shipper sizes so that the one most appropriate to be used for a new product can be determined.

The options shown allow you to enter / modify / delete the descriptions and sizes of up to 500 standard shippers. These sizes and descriptions are held in a datafile in sorted order according to shipper description.

The Next and Previous buttons allow you to browse through the database. The ++ and -- perform a similar function initially but in a large database move more through the database several entries at a time. Entries can be added or deleted. Having completed changes End Edit will save the database updates (if any) to disk. If you need to abandon all changes a Quit option is available at the top left of the screen (as with all other PALLETMANAGER screens).

Earlier it was mentioned that when using Cube (as with other modules) a set of default shipper dimensions (Length, width, height and weight) are presented to the user. When a Cube database has been created these values will be those of the first (sorted) entry in the Cube database. By suitable coding of the entries (00000 etc) an appropriate default can be set up.

Whenever PALLETMANAGER is subsequently started the database created using the above procedure will be made available when operating in Cube mode. The use of the database is selected by you on Screen 3c where Cube Load Limits are defined.

If a run utilising the Cube database has been selected then the stated case will be run against each shipper in the Cube database.

The results then displayed (for all the shipper sizes) will be sorted into order of volume utilisation with that shipper giving highest utilisation being displayed first. As with the above results screens several lines are used to report the solution quality of each shipper. The display may be scrolled to view the results of the best 30 shipper sizes from those in the database and a printout may be requested. Highlighting (using the mouse) the entry of interest and then selecting Layout will, as above, produce the layouts available to create the desired solution. The Screen 3 default load limit values may be changes prior to calculating solutions using the database and all database entries together with the Screen 3 load limits will be examined as part of the analysis. 

If a particular shipper size provides for an extreme number of product to be fitted (more than 500 / layer) then it will be excluded from the analysis.


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