Chiron plans ahead to gradually automate and extend storage solutions

SSI SCHAEFER created the concept for a new logistics center for the CHIRON Group at the production site Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany. The project aims at supplying the installation work stations more efficiently. The system layout is designed for a step by step implementation towards automation. The manual warehouse equipment such as pallet racks and static racks by SSI SCHAEFER are the perfect basis for this plan.

“Success in competition requires high flexibility,” says Christian Kalisch, Logistics Director at CHIRON Werke GmbH & Co KG in Tuttlingen, Germany. “Against this background we continuously extend our product portfolio.” As a consequence, capacities in warehousing for production supply and complex processes decrease. In the course of the largest investment project in the almost 100 years of the company history, corporate management decided to build a new production center with connected warehouse area – the CHIRON Precision Factory. “The most modern machine factory throughout Europe,” explains Mr. Kalisch. SSI SCHAEFER was awarded the contract for the intralogistics equipment tailor-made for the requirements. “We have had good experiences with SSI SCHAEFER technology,” justifies Mr. Kalisch the decision. “SSI SCHAEFER was ahead of competition in this respect.”

The CHIRON Group headquartered in Tuttlingen, Germany, specializes in CNC-controlled, vertical milling and turning centers as well as turnkey solutions. The Group is present around the world with production and development locations, sales and services branches as well as commercial agencies. About two thirds of the sold machines and solutions are exported. New machines are produced under the brands CHIRON, STAMA and SCHERER, retrofitted machines are sold under the brand CMS. The most important customers are the automotive industry, mechanical engineering, medical and precision engineering as well as aviation and astronautics.

The new, central logistics at Neuhausen, Germany, connects the CHIRON Precision Factory with the existing production buildings. When equipping the CHIRON Precision Factory, IT experts, production and intralogistics engineers implemented a high degree of digitalization to ensure high productivity and sustainable orientation. Digital installation folders, contactless logistics bookings and intelligent material flows with path-optimized picking and provision processes are important milestones for the change towards a paperless factory.

The operative areas with 9,000 m² for production and 2,500 m² for logistics were designed particularly for the precise installation of mechanical component groups. In future, up to 400 machines will leave the CHIRON Precision Factory every year. Optimized installation and logistics processes ensure shortest delivery times. To meet the specific requirements for the reliable supply of the assembly locations in the new Precision Factory, SSI SCHAEFER developed a comprehensive, continuously adaptable solution. The entire system was installed within eight weeks after order placement. “The project had a tight implementation schedule,” underlines Mr. Kalisch. “The mere installation had to be completed within 14 days as planned.” At the end of August 2019, test operation started at the new, 13,700 m² production site. Handover took place in September, the official opening was in October.

Rack system with QR code

“The logistics area is logically structured and facilitates organized material flow up to the final assembly of machines. Furthermore, the entire area does not have any columns. This was an important requirement from our part,” says Mr. Kalisch. For warehousing and optimum access to the required components, SSI SCHAEFER first installed a 6-aisle pallet rack system for manual operation with a special cable drum rack as well as a rack system with about 840 shelves for storing small parts. In the new static rack system, the SSI SCHAEFER open front containers of series LF are used. The inclined front opening ensures fast and easy access to the materials. Ecological sustainability was also important in the selection. The containers are made out of high-quality regranulate. Furthermore, SSI SCHAEFER marked all storage locations unambiguously to ensure transparency and smooth linking of stock data with the processing IT system SAP MM. The entire rack system is equipped with QR code labeling. This facilitates mobile data gathering and fast changes of storage location, if necessary. The storage equipment has been designed as adaptable system that can be extended and automated according to requirements. The concept provides for a future heavy-duty rack and four vertical storage lifts.

Using the modular system of pallet rack PR 600, SSI SCHAEFER created a rack system with more than 700 storage locations for storing large parts for final assembly such as castings, axis motors or traveling columns. The pallet rack is 1,250 m deep and is equipped with floor gratings. “It offers maximum flexibility for allocating storage goods,” says Mr. Kalisch. “The floor gratings facilitate transversal storage of special load carriers and also increase the safety in the pallet warehouse.” The rack system is 5.20 m high and can accommodate up to 6 levels. The aisle width has been planned with 4 m.

“The concept also includes automated guided vehicles (AGVs) later on, these AGVs will be used for replenishment and retrieval in the pallet rack,” explains the Logistics Director the planning concept. “Transport paths and rack system are thus designed for automatic processes.”

One line in the pallet rack is used as cable drum rack with 9 fields for 5 cable drums each above one another. The suspensions facilitate the delivery of rollers with a diameter of up to 500 mm, a drum width of 685 mm and a weight of 275 kg (N5 according to DIN 46391). Each field of the rack area with the hanging cable drums is completed with two pallet storage locations each on every level. The drum rack with 45 locations enables fast and comfortable removal of bulk stock for machine installation.

Facing the pallet storage locations, SSI SCHAEFER installed a static rack system for storing small parts for final assembly of the machines. The rack system R7000 mounted by SSI SCHAEFER consists of 2 individual lines and 10 double lines. In the lines with a height of 2.17 m, 72 horizontal shelf racks and 58 inclined shelf racks are installed. On the inclined shelves, bulk goods are stored in almost 2,500 open front containers, series LF.

20,000 picks for cycled assembly supply

With this system layout, the processes are designed for consistent efficiency, precision and sustainability. A 750 m² delivery hall has been set up to take over incoming goods. It ensures that goods can be received regardless of the weather. Large components are delivered two days in advance and placed directly on the production staging area so that they are at the optimum temperature for processing. All materials to be stored have to go to goods-in first. There, the goods-in check and goods registration are carried out. Then forklifts pick up the pallets and bring them to the storage locations determined by the SAP system or to the repackaging locations for storage in the static rack system. The storage principle is fixed location storage.

For order picking, the stored materials are picked from the large and small parts area on demand by the assembly work stations. “With the new warehouse, we have now centralized the material for final assembly close to the required locations and can therefore react more quickly,“ says Mr. Kalisch, describing the advantages. “Even in the case of unplanned material requirements, reactions take place in a matter of seconds.” For bulk goods, picking takes place with a two-container system in according to the Kanban principle. The inventory-managed materials are controlled via SAP Kanban or reordered automatically from SAP. C-items are reordered automatically using an independently working RFID system.

The material is picked in the rack systems, independent of the assembly groups, and then combined in plastic containers to form assembly groups for final machine assembly. The containers are labeled with the description for the assembly group. The SSI SCHAEFER containers used in the rack and the material flow are mostly made out of recycled materials. The storage containers made from regranulate underline the ecological concept that characterizes the entire project,” says Mr. Kalisch.

The assembly-group-compatible containers are taken to the assembly plant according to the respective machine cycles. For order picking and provision, special order picking trolleys are used that are equipped with the materials for the next assembly cycle. At so-called ramps, the picking trolleys are made available for delivery to the final assembly lines and combined with order components from other storage areas. The logistics department then takes over the delivery of the trolleys and large components to the assembly stations.

In the new, transparently structured material warehouse, the intralogistics staff currently achieves around 20,000 picks per month with their mobile data terminals – and thus ensure that the assembly work stations are supplied on time and on schedule. By switching to mobile data acquisition, for example, incoming goods postings, storage space changes, inventory processing and material withdrawals can be carried out with the same device in the operational area. This raises the degree of digitalization, an essential goal of the entire project. The associated digitalization of administrative processes also increases quality, productivity and transparency of logistics.

“Thanks to the QR code labeling, the quickly and flexibly adaptable, modular rack systems and the short picking routes, there is a significant increase compared to the previous processes,” summarizes Mr. Kalisch.

At the same time, the foundations for the further digital transformation process have been laid. During the project planning phase, we examined numerous aspects of Industry 4.0 and selected the most important elements for the CHIRON material flow. We can now implement these aspects successively in appropriate implementation steps. All in all, a very successful project, in which we had a competent implementation partner at our side – SSI SCHAEFER."

CHIRON, storage systems, manual

Storage equipment has been designed as adaptable system that can be extended and automated according to requirements.


Using the modular system of pallet rack PR 600, SSI SCHAEFER created a rack system with more than 700 storage locations for storing large parts for final assembly such as castings, axis motors or traveling columns.

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