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f+h Intralogistics 4/2015

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f+h Intralogistics 4/2015


SOFTWARE Bringing complex process automation under control For a lingerie manufacturer in Belarus, restructuring its distribution presented a challenge on several levels. The goal was to comprehensively automate material flow processes while at the same time ensuring a high level of transparency and efficiency for processes. The company achieved its goals by implementing a modular warehouse management system from PSI Logistics (Germany). there. The lingerie manufacturer is the primary customer of the logistics system operated by Baltsped. The system is capable of working with multiple clients. The existing building of the new distribution center was equipped with a high-bay warehouse, which contains 4,500 storage locations and was designed as a replenishment area. Two sorting systems were also installed to ensure comprehensive automation of processes. The 9,000 m² main warehouse building was divided into four split-levels with 63,000 shelving rack storage locations for single unit picking. “Working together with the system supplier, we developed an automated storage and distribution system with the sorter that can serve up to 100 destinations simultaneously,” explains Vyacheslav Shakin, Director of Baltsped Logistics. “But process automation alone is not everything. The complex processes in goods receipt, quality assurance and also in packaging and shipping require high-performance warehouse management software. Their purpose is to control the automation processes, taking into account industry-specific requirements while also assuring us a high level of transparency, efficiency and investment security.” Following an international invitation to bid, the contract for delivery and installation of the required software was awarded to PSI Logistics GmbH (Berpany-internal material flow processes under the control of a warehouse management system (WMS). The newly installed IT system now generates orders for the company’s internal transport tasks, controls a two kilometer long conveyor system and manages inventory, the assignment of storage locations, consolidation stations and order production. The software brings together all the necessary information data on a redundantly designed server. Creating a structural and digital infrastructure In 2013, the Fashion Group consolidated the three existing warehouses in the Minsk area into a single distribution center in Obchak, which is also not far from the metropolitan area. The logistics center is directly attached to the Milavitsa production plant Milavitsa, founded in 1908 and headquartered in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, is one of the largest producers of foundation garments in Eastern Europe. The lingerie manufacturer belongs to the Silvano Fashion Group of Tallinn, Estonia, and produces about 17 million high-quality garments a year. The collections are exported to almost 30 countries around the globe. In view of the sustained growth of the company, the manufacturer made the decision at the beginning of 2012 to reorganize and optimize procurement and distribution structures. The measures focused on warehouse management. A contract and distribution logistics specialist was also available from a logistics subsidiary founded in 2010 by the Fashion Group, LLC Baltsped Logistics Ltd. (Minsk). To implement the project effectively and optimally, Milavitsa decided to place com- 40 f+h Intralogistics 4/2015

SOFTWARE lin) in July 2012. “The wide-reaching functional scope of PSI Logistics’ standard WMS system and the company’s references in comparable projects it has already implemented in the Russian and Belarusian markets were the crucial factors for the procurement decision,” explains Shakin. Installation during ongoing operation The software company developed a low-risk strategy for warehouse consolidation and integrating new processes into the warehouse management system. This method made it possible to replace the old system while still retaining the delivery capability of Baltsped Logistics. In the first phase of the project, inventories of the three old warehouses were transferred directly into the new software. Goods were entered as stock quantities of the new distribution center and identified accordingly. During this transitional period, the two systems operated in parallel with the old system responsible for operational processes. The conveyor system which had been installed in the meanwhile and the two sorters were integrated into the warehouse About PSI management software in the second phase. The automatic packaging system including the weigher connection and labeling were also placed under software control. The distribution center began trial operation in August 2013 and has been working at full capacity since September 2013. Managing multifaceted processes The system capacity is designed for up to 100,000 storage and retrieval operations a day. Deliveries come directly from internal production or from external producers in Asia, in the latter case mostly semi-finished products. First all products are sorted in the goods receipt area and pass through quality control. The software books the approved articles as incoming goods while simultaneously comparing them against recorded data as well as purchase order and notification data. At the same time, the management system checks reservations and order data. The system uses all this information to determine the required packaging and the optimum internal company transport routes for storage, supply of products and shipping of goods. While the articles are still in goods receipt, they are packaged and labeled according to these requirements by automatic packaging machines in groups of identical colors and sizes for different target markets and customers. The packaging machines are controlled directly by the management software using integrated interfaces. Also in the goods receipt area, forklift trucks pick up complete pallets to replenish supplies in the order picking locations and move them to the transfer stations for the high-bay warehouse, where racking storage and retrieval vehicles place each pallet in one of the 3,600 storage locations. The forklift control system (transport control), which can be accessed from the standard version of the warehouse management system, ensures peak utilization of the industrial trucks and optimizes distances for transport tasks. Incoming goods intended for storage in the picking racks are first packaged, then As a leading manufacturer of software for logistic networks, PSI Logistics boasts a broad spectrum of products. This includes software for warehousing, transportation management, the optimization of logistic networks, the monitoring of logistical processes, as well as airport solutions. As a special provider of logistics software, PSI Logistics bundles logistical expertise for PSI AG on the market. PSI was founded in 1969 and currently employees a global workforce of 1,700. placed in cartons and transferred to the conveyor system. The conveyor system relies on regularly recorded bar codes to guide the boxes directly to the assigned floor, where they reach the defined storage locations in the shelving rack systems on the intermediate levels. The software transfers all the necessary information directly to employees’ mobile data terminals. Higher daily throughput For order picking, the PSI WMS sends the picking requirements to the employees on the four picking levels. Picking for Milavitsa consists of several stages. First, the articles are placed in transport containers. When picking is complete, the conveyor system then takes them to the consolidation buffer. The buffer consists of twelve terminal points, each with 20 container storage locations. “One of the challenges in customizing the PSI WMS was to integrate a multiple sequencing strategy,” explains Slawomir Budzaj, PSI Logistics Project Manager. Although the information for articles was spread out over several floors, they had to be handled as a single order. At the same time, various parameters for combined storage of articles had to be considered as part of consolidation. These include for example the sensitivity of an article, the optimum makeup of shipping pallets and utilization of transport space. The WMS first moves the transport containers from the four levels to one of the twelve terminal points, based on the order. From there the containers are automatically sent to one of the two sorters. The sorters operate 60 and 40 packing stations in shipping. While the articles are circulating, the software controls the load carriers in sequence to the shipping workstations so that employees working there receive the heaviest articles first and the most sensitive ones last. The software compares the automatically recorded weight with the target data to check the completeness of order picking in the background. The articles are repackaged into shipping cartons at the workstations, closed, labeled and stacked on pallets ready for shipping. In addition to sequencing, the management system also ensures that pallets are put together optimally for their routing and recipients. Using this system, order pickers in Minsk process up to 30,000 order items a day. Shakin summarizes: “At full capacity and with intelligent IT and automation, we will exceed our daily throughput by more than 50 percent compared to the previous processes.” Photos: PSI, VFV Grafik/processing: VFV Grafik f+h Intralogistics 4/2015 41


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