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f+h Intralogistics 5/2015

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f+h Intralogistics 5/2015


WAREHOUSING 01 Beside order picking, the trilateral stacker EKX 410 gives the additional option of loading and unloading entire pallets Warehouse navigation optimized goods distribution Dozens of high-performance Jungheinrich vehicles hooked up to a narrow-aisle warehouse navigation system are responsible for the highly efficient processes at PB, a Chinese fashion enterprise. Ciel Yu gazes down from the gallery of his company’s giant warehouse and smiles – with good reason. This is because the Supply Chain Manager can see several narrowaisle stackers driving down the long aisles – stackers which know exactly where they are headed. The warehouse navigation system sends them to just the right rack position, even setting the route to get there. “This navigation system provides for optimum routing”, explains Yu. Navigation in a warehouse? What might sound implausible to the layperson has actually been reality for a number of years now. And warehouse navigation has made inroads in the distribution processes at PB, an enterprise in the Chinese fashion sector, as well. In the words of Yu, Supply Chain Manager at PB, “we have registered a sub- stantial improvement in efficiency at our warehouse.” One important reason is that his trucks go to the exact rack position set by the warehouse navigation system, taking the fastest route and accelerating and braking at the optimum speed. “The system allows the client to take advantage of the maximum speed of any vehicle in virtually any situation, with errors virtually ruled out,” says Li Xiaowen, Product Manager for Logistics Systems at Jungheinrich China. “In a warehouse as big the one here at PB, this translates into cold hard cash!” But let us start from the beginning: Just three hours’ drive south of Shanghai lies the city of Ningbo, a coastal city in the eastern Chinese province of Zhèjiang. PB has its roots in this metropolis, which numbers some 6 million inhabitants. The company contracts its garment manufacturing out to a number of different producers under the Peace Bird label, which is divided up into several different brands “tailored to the needs of our customers,” as Yu remarks. In his capacity as the Supply Chain Manager, he is responsible for all of the company’s logistics processes. And the company has a number of logistics challenges to cope with. The biggest one: Until recently PB maintained 14 smallscale warehouses in Ningbo. Currently these are all being amalgamated into a single major distribution center, with slightly more than 66,000 pallet slots and 12,800 m² of space. 300 staff members were employed at the center through the end of 2014; according to Yu, the company ultimately plans to employ more than 500 people there. After the successful integration of the individual warehouses, PB is planning to open a second distribution center in the east of China. “All in good time”, remarks the Supply Chain Manager, with a note of caution. PB’s growth has always rested on a solid and healthy foundation, he explains, adding that the company’s growth had thus far always been “organic”. Apart from his company’s unconditional customer orientation, Yu sees this as a further shared trait with Jungheinrich – “our partner for intralogistics solutions”. Fast and smooth transport over long distances Although a person touring the warehouse might initially assume he’s at a European facility, certain procedures at the beginning of the materials handling process will quickly contradict this notion. That is because the goods produced by the various contracted manufacturers are delivered by lorry – without any pallets. Warehouse workers unload the cartons from the lorry and stack these on nearby pallets (for shipping, the goods are loaded again individually into the waiting lorry, and the pallets stay at PB’s). After 46 f+h Intralogistics 5/2015

WAREHOUSING this, the incoming goods are checked for completeness. If everything is okay with the shipment, an ERE 120 pedestrian pallet truck transports the laden pallets to the warehouse. These consist of Jungheinrich low platform trucks with a folding stand-on platform and a transport capacity of 2,000 kg. Thanks to its folding platform the truck can be used either as a pedestrian or as driver-operated vehicle. One essential application for the truck consists of the fast and smooth transport of goods over long distances within the warehouse – at PB this includes the narrow aisle warehouse, where the goods are stored. A total of 14 narrow-aisle stackers, type EKX 410 (Image 01) and EKS 312, are in operation here. These trucks are produced at the Jungheinrich plant in Degernpoint, near Munich, Germany. Whereas the operator of an EKS can use the truck solely for order picking, the EKX gives him the additional About Jungheinrich Jungheinrich is one of the world’s leading companies in the industrial truck, warehousing and material flow engineering sectors. As a manufacturing service and solution provider in the field of intralogistics, the company, based in Hamburg, Germany, supports its customers with a comprehensive product range that includes forklift trucks, shelving systems, services and consulting. The Jungheinrich share is traded on all German stock exchanges. 02 The warehouse navigation system communicates via display, which is installed at the narrow-aisle stacker option of loading and unloading entire pallets. According to Li Xiaowen, the number of trucks ordered in each case was preceded by an analysis of the tasks that would be performed, and the relative frequency, at the PB warehouse. While the ten vertical order pickers (EKS 312) are used mainly to pick orders for outgoing goods, the four trilateral stackers/order pickers (EKX 410) are used mainly to handle pallets in the narrow-aisle warehouse. Both truck types are moreover equipped with the Jungheinrich warehouse navigation system, “to allow them to fully exhibit their strong points”, remarks a smiling Supply Chain Manager from his perch up on the gallery. Warehouse Navigation System results in savings of up to 25 % If the goods are to be stored in the narrowaisle warehouse, the navigation system assigns a rack slot to the pallet. The operator sees this on his display (Image 02), then moves the vehicle to the corresponding aisle and needs only activate the drive direction switch. If the operator – for whatever reason – is at the wrong location, the vehicle simply stops. According to Xiaowen, this makes it impossible for the operator to enter the wrong aisle, “saving precious time in the process,” she concludes. As soon as the stacker is in the right aisle and the operator gives the start command, the warehouse navigation system ensures the stacker reaches the appropriate rack position in the shortest possible time, choosing the fastest path, and using only as much energy as required. “In practice our customers are achieving cost savings of up to 25 percent,” comments Xiaowen. This sentiment is seconded by Yu, who remarks that “this investment was worth every penny!” The use of warehouse navigation “automatically” results in a very high rate of process security, as automated processes leave less room for individual mistakes. The loading and unloading of goods always occurs at the right rack position. And the inventory levels in the warehouse navigation system are always up-to-date. The Jungheinrich logistics interface ensures the smooth communication of the warehouse management system with the truck. This involves specially designed middleware installed on the wireless data communications terminal. This middleware takes over the tasks of the communications center and “translates” the orders in both directions. This makes integration into both existing and new system environments fast and convenient. Yu expresses his satisfaction that all of this was possible “without needing to make any functional changes to our warehouse management system.” And the warehouse navigation system also results in a number of benefits for warehouse staff, including less strain on the operator, since it is no longer necessary to search for the right pallet slot. “The operator is more relaxed in tackling his assignments,” observes the Supply Chain Manager Yu. “And it is much easier to train new staff members, who often are able to perform at the same level as experienced operators after just a short learning phase,” remarks the Product Manager Xiaowen, adding that this advantage was not insignificant in the case of PB. Pioneer in three-phase A.C. technology The flawless operation of the entire logistics system is indispensable for the market success of PB, which needs to make on-time deliveries to 5,000 shops – some proprietary, some owned by franchise partners. Added to this is the company’s online business, with orders being shipped from Ningbo directly to the client. But the efficient employment of the Jungheinrich warehouse navigation system is only one side of the coin. “The whole setup is naturally of little value if the warehouse navigation system is not backed by high-performance vehicles,” says Xiaowen. All the industrial trucks in operation at PB are fitted with the latest generation of Jungheinrich three-phase A.C. technology – needless to say, the order pickers as well. Xiaowen – still up on the gallery with Yu in the PB narrow-aisle warehouse – relates that “Jungheinrich is a pioneer in three-phase A.C. technology. By now more than 150,000 Jungheinrich three-phase trucks are in operation worldwide.” This know-how, she continues, is directly reflected in the trucks’ drive and control engineering. In layman’s terms, this translates into high performance ratings and an especially high order picking rate, coupled with low energy consumption. And furthermore into an efficient energy budget and substantially less maintenance and wear. Yu listens attentively, then glances down at the narrow-aisle stackers below him, and smiles. Photos: Jungheinrich MULTIMEDIA CONTENT External video: learn more about the achievement spectrum of the enterprise f+h Intralogistics 5/2015 47


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