Canadian Packaging

Upwardly Mobile

George Guidoni   

Ontario conveying-systems specialist reaches new heights of customer-service excellence with in-house expertise and proactive peer collaboration

As the growth in e-commerce continues its relentless transformation of everyday life in many consumer and manufacturing industries, the need for warehousing and logistics automation has never been more urgent for countless commercial enterprises dependent on reliable, responsive and smooth-running supply chains to deliver their products to market.

And as the recent global COVID-19 pandemic painfully demonstrated, taking supply chains for granted is often an invitation to chaos and catastrophic disruptions to normal economic activities in business and consumer sectors alike.

But for companies like Mainway Handling Systems, a family-owned conveyor systems integrator and manufacturer based in Burlington, Ont., helping to keep the wheels of commerce spinning despite the current supply chain challenges and overhauls is the proverbial opportunity of a lifetime to establish itself as an elite Canadian warehousing and logistics expert par excellence.

Founded in 1988, the family company started out as provider of systems design, installations and integration services for several key logistics industries, including:

  • Warehouse and Distribution (e-commerce, order fulfillment);
  • 3PL (third-party logistics) and logistics (middle mile, final mile);
  • Freight and Parcel (courier, cargo);
  • Food and Beverage (packaging, post-manufacturing);
  • Automotive and Manufacturing (assembly lines and OEMs).

Building up a solid industry-wide reputation for providing effective leading-edge customized solutions for businesses across these key sectors, the company has grown from strength to strength over the years—recently moving its operations to a bigger new facility, including a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, to accommodate its growing staff of 25 full-time employees and a fairly extensive product inventory.

“The new building houses our sales, project management, estimating, design, marketing, engineering, and the manufacturing and assembly of our automated conveyors,” says Mainway Handling’s marketing specialist Matthew Pereira.

“We do have an in-house service team comprising electricians and technicians, but they mostly work onsite along with our project managers.”

According to Pereira, that fact that a company of such relatively small size is consistently called upon to execute complex logistics projects for some of the biggest names in the distribution business—including Decathlon, Book Depot, Loomis, Canpar, Ikea and Yusen Logistics—speaks volumes about the level of its in-house expertise and customer-service excellence.

As Pereira relates, “From start to finish, Mainway excels at providing complete turnkey integrated systems.

“We take pride in our ability to design an efficient system utilizing several key partners and innovative technologies in warehouse automation, being able to provide customer-specific solutions.”

To complement its extensive service capabilities, Pereira notes, “In the last three years we have designed and started manufacturing or one line of motor-drive roller (MDR) conveyors, with a lead time of 10-to-12 weeks.

According to Pereira, Mainway is particularly proud of this accomplishment, as the company found it difficult to acquire reliable delivery times for these types of conveyor in Canada.

Moreover, the majority of automated conveyors sold within Canada are exported from the U.S.

“By producing our own conveyors, we are able to ensure product availability in the event of future supply-chain disruptions,” he says.

Moreover, being able to carry the ‘Ontario Made’ seal on its conveyor, indicting that Mainway sources the majority of its materials within the province, is a strong selling point.

“Now Canadian organizations can look to Mainway as their ‘go to’ supplier for turnkey warehouse solutions,” Pereira states.

According to Mainway, the company’s flagship Mainway MDR (motorized drive roller) run-on-demand, zone-controlled conveyors have already proven to be highly efficient, reliable and flexible conveying solutions at multiple customer sites.

“With current lead times reaching up to a year in some cases, and shipping costs doubling or tripling in some cases, it made sense for us to have our own conveying manufacturing onsite, enabling us to have more control over the quality and delivery of our product,” Pereira explains.

“We see tremendous growth opportunities in both the Canadian and U.S. markets,” he adds, “as out goal is to expand our MDR conveyor offering to become a leading Canadian conveyor supplier.”

In addition to bringing its own expertise and know-how to the table, Mainway has also benefited from collaborating with leading material handling systems manufacturers, such as Ryson International Inc., to provide full turnkey material-handling solutions for its clients.

Operating out of a 50,000-square-foot facility in Yorktown, Va., Ryson specializes in manufacturing heavy-duty vertical conveyance systems—primarily spiral conveyors and bucket elevators—and ancillary equipment, producing an average of 500 machines per year.

As part of the globally operating Royal Apollo Group, headquartered in The Netherlands, Ryson primarily serves customers in North and South America, with CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies—particularly in the food-and-beverage sectors—and logistics providers accounting for most of its installations.

Available in a broad assortment of application-specific configurations—including unit load, mass flow, high-capacity, wide-track, narrow-track, dual-track and multiple exit/entry versions—Ryson spirals are a common sight at many fast-paced North American manufacturing, warehousing and distribution facilities with limited floorspace availability.

With their compact footprint and far greater speeds compared to traditional elevators or lifts, Ryson spirals offer a highly efficient and reliable means of transferring mass quantities of product wherever it’s needed in the manufacturing process or on the packaging line.

Outfitted with proprietary slat-type belts with rolling friction and without any sliding movements or wear-strips, the modular Ryson spirals can be tailored to fit virtually any space or application requirement, according to the company’s technical account manager Taoufik Haddadi.

“Our modular design allows the equipment to be reconfigured at a fraction of the cost of a new spiral when layouts change,” Haddadi says, “while benefiting OEMs and integrators because it allows flexibility in layouts.

“Another key element to our spirals’ uniqueness is the fact that the conveying surface relies on rolling friction rather than sliding,” he adds. “This allows the Ryson spirals to handle heavy loads, to start and stop even when fully loaded, and to have a very low noise level.

“All of our spirals are custom-configured with standard components to match layout needs,” Haddadi points out. “Because all our company functions are co-located at our facility, we have access to everything needed to provide technical support and service to customers—be they integrators, OEMs or end-users.”

All these factors came into play in a big way during Mainway Handling’s recent major project involving installation of a towering 38-feet-high Ryson spiral as part of a sweeping warehouse automation upgrade at the vast Carquest Auto Parts distribution center in Bolton, Ont.

Carrying a massive fast-moving inventory of automotive parts, fluids and countless related accessories, the 597,000-square-foot warehouse provided plenty of opportunity for Mainway and its partners to showcase their competencies and skill sets.

“There is a high level of customized components, units and systems that go into every project, as no two warehouses are alike,” notes Pereira.

“For the Carquest project, we built a four-level pick tower integrating several partners and systems, including a multi-belt sorter, the 38-foot Ryson spiral, our own Mainway MDR conveyor, and a multi-sided scan tunnel,” Pereira reveals.

“To make optimal use of all the available warehouse space, we incorporated hundreds of feet of our conveyor around the facility, which was mounted to the floor along with the ceiling, connecting the entire warehouse.”

Says Pereira: “We have had a great relationship with Ryson for many years due to their quality and consistent work.

“We always look to them when we need a condensed system that is robust enough to convey high volumes and heavier products, like the one anchored at the back of the four-level pick tower,” Pereira elaborates.

“We found that installing a pick tower with automated conveyor and a Ryson spiral enabled us to handle the majority of their product count while keeping a fairly small footprint, in addition to handling a wide range of product weights—from wiper blades to disk rotors,” Pereira extols.

“As a complete systems integrator, Mainway relies on suppliers like Ryson to provide equipment for systems such as the one at Carquest.

“Being able to integrate the spiral as one piece to the puzzle at Carquest, along with various other types of conveyors, steel structures and the scanning system, has allowed Carquest to not only meet their demands today, but also to grow with them in the future.”

As Pereira relates, all of the projects commissioned by Mainway Handling are strongly supported by value-added follow-up services that include emergency repairs, preventative maintenance, and parts supply.

“We have a highly competent in-house service team comprised of electricians and mechanical technicians, which allows us to provide preventative maintenance and emergency repair services.”

Says Pereira: “We are continuing to see more adoption of automated systems in our markets, as continued growth in e-commerce and speed of shipping/delivery demands have made automation a necessity in many cases.

“Given the recent challenges of soaring real estate costs, many companies are now looking for ways to pivot and best utilize the resources they have now.”

As Pereira concludes, “We want to ensure that Mainway Handling is always looked upon as a trusted partner to tackle any warehouse challenge, while allowing companies to focus on their core business and customer satisfaction.

“We believe that being able to provide that appropriate solution for our customer is the key to our own prosperous future.”


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