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f+h Intralogistics 4/2015

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f+h Intralogistics 4/2015


WAREHOUSING Grob relies on automated storage solution from viastore For machine manufacturer Grob-Werke GmbH & Co. KG, in Mindelheim/ Germany, it was a logistic paradigm shift: The company completely converted the supply of its assembly workstations from the man to goods principle to an automated warehouse goods to man solution. Viastore systems GmbH was selected to be the systems integrator. per pick lists and then delivered them to the assembly with a forklift,” says Christian Lisiecki, Head of Logistics from Grob. The storage capacities were exhausted over time. In addition, the flow of goods and the inventories were not always transparent. “When parts were missing at an assembly station during the night shift, then the colleagues just went to the warehouse and got them.” Due to the high complexity of assembly processes and the provision of material, the outsourcing of logistics to a third party logistics (3PL) provider was not an option. Two years ago, the management gave the About viastore systems With more than 113,000 square meters of production space and over 3,000 employees, the Mindelheim plant is Grob’s largest site. The family-run company is a provider of customized solutions for high volume production: individualized manufacturing lines consisting of modular machining centers and special machines that are linked by automation solutions. In recent years, the equipment manufacturer extended its production by more than 35 percent and created some 700 new jobs. Adding people was not enough. A more efficient material flow to supply the assembly workstations would need to be increased too. “The storage capacity at the site was no longer sufficient. We had to resort to external warehouses that we operated according to the classic man-to-goods principle. Our staff manually collected together the goods on pallets or in pallet boxes according to pago-ahead for a new logistics center, with the goal of retrieving the various external storage facilities. With this project, Grob has converted its warehouse concept to a system with planned goods to man picking (Image 01). The goods are stored on pallets, in pallet boxes and in containers of different sizes. “These different load carriers are necessary because we need to store very tiny parts that are just a few millimeters in size, all the way through to very bulky machinery components that weigh up to one ton,” says Lisiecki. A special challenge at Grob is that there are as many as 1.9 million SKUs and each day about 500 new ones are added. So the people in charge of logistics at Grob were looking for a competent partner to master this logistics challenge within a very narrow time frame. About 15 potential suppliers were contacted, but after initial discussions, only three were left in the running, with viastore being selected. “viastore’s high level of system and software expertise is very convinc- viastore systems, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, is an international leader in the supply of turnkey automatic intralogistics systems, WMS, SAP logistics solutions, material flow and process control, as well as shuttle and automated storage/ retrieval systems. With a workforce of 450, the company registered a turnover in 2014 of 120 million euro. The system integrator has local business units in Brazil, China, France, Russia, Spain, the Czech Republic, the USA and elsewhere around the world. 38 f+h Intralogistics 4/2015

ing. It is not easy to find a partner whose software can be seamlessly connected to SAP. This was a very important aspect for us,” Lisiecki points out. viastore undertook to keep to the contract schedule – and the company kept its word: In spring, the contract was signed and nine months later the system went live. The intralogistic company implemented a four-aisle automated viaspeed mini-load automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) with 2 and 4-layer-deep storage, and a 7-aisle, single-deep viapal automated pallet warehouse (Image 02). Simplified processes, higher flexibility The mini-load system, which is 65.5 m long, 8.4 m wide and 8.8 m high, contains 26,288 storage locations. About 580 containers can be stored and retrieved per hour. The system has four pick stations and is connected to a manual warehouse via a platform with a pick-up/drop-off location. What makes this system so special? Is that the load handling devices of the mini-load AS/RS can handle either two containers with a footprint of 600 × 400 mm or four containers measuring 300 × 400 mm, and also one container sized 600 × 400 mm or two containers measuring 300 × 400 mm? Grob benefits from significantly higher flexibility in the storage of small parts and vastly improved space utilization. Each container can hold a load of 30 and 15 kg respectively. To further increase the flexibility of the system, viastore divided the mini-load AS/RS into two halves. “The advantage is that we 01 The machine manufacturer converted the supply of its assembly workstations completely from the man to goods principle to an automatic goods to man warehouse solution can supply both sides with only one material conveyor system connection,” explains Peter Päusch, who heads viastore’s planning and sales office for southern Germany. At the end of the storage system buffer zones have been created in the new logistics center. This will allow for future system expansion if necessary, without requiring additional handling technology. The 7 aisle automated pallet warehouse is 76.6 m long, 30.4 m wide and 8.5 m high, with four pick stations. There are 8,772 storage locations in single deep storage, with a maximum load capacity of one ton per pallet. When run at full capacity, the pallet AS/RS can perform 280 storage and retrieval operations per hour. With both systems, Grob employees pick between 5,000 and 6,000 parts from the automated storage systems each day. A Vitronic camera system records the degree of filling of each load carrier. “This helps us to obtain valuable key performance indicators, and allows our employees to selectively remove empty containers and add parts, which helps to optimize the degree of filling containers and the warehouse,” says Lisiecki. The images are stored in the data system. If necessary, they are used to check for missing parts, or to detect storage errors. Compatible to SAP Grob uses SAP in conjunction with the viastore warehouse management system for the management and control of its warehouse. The WMS is linked to SAP and SAP controls the assignment and management of storage locations. In addition, the WMS regulates the transport strategies for the load units in the automated part of the logistics center. At Grob, the operators work with the SAP front end so that one system would be used throughout all company areas. “We want to display very specific additional information to our staff in order to avoid mistakes,” says Lisiecki. Nevertheless, Grob wanted to utilize several important WMS functions from viastore. The high level of flexibility within the viastore WMS can be adapted to all requirements due to its modular design. “The viastore WMS controls over the allocation of storage locations because the WMS system knows where what goods are so it can make better use of the logic of allocations than SAP.” The software allows the head of logistics to compile the desired key figures individually and flexibly via a dashboard. The automated warehouse has paid off for Grob. The system has been running smoothly from the start, with the degree of filling in the pallet racking hitting 81 percent just a few weeks after start-up, and at 46 percent in the container rack. “With the automated solution provided by viastore we can further improve our processes. The pick quality is excellent and the throughput rate is significantly higher than before,” reports Lisiecki. Grob needs maximum system availability to supply the assembly area with high process reliability. “This is just what we got. The packing density has also increased many times over.” Photos: viastore MULTIMEDIA CONTENT 02 The automated pallet warehouse with four pick stations and seven viapal unit load AR/RS can accommodate 8,772 euro pallets Internal video: Learn more about the achievement spectrum of the enterprise f+h Intralogistics 4/2015 39


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