Existing material handling systems, processes, and material flows should be maintained from a sustainability perspective. "In addition to the optimal usage of existing premises, it was a matter of planning the expansion in a way that ensured it could take place during active operation. It was vital that our business wasn't impaired at any point," says Harald Horstmann, outlining one of the most significant challenges of the project.
The project was executed in three steps:
To be able to implement the planned expansions, the order start in the old system first had to be transferred and automated extensively.
Then the direct conveying system connection to the fully automated high bay warehouse was established for both the existing and future storage and picking systems.
The third and most important project step was finally the construction of the shuttle warehouse including the accompanying work stations.
"Together with the VVA, we primarily implemented the physical integration and tests in combination with the new system at weekends and we did the same for the construction, the renovation, and the addition to the conveying system, too," recalls Martin Nagler, Project Manager from SSI SCHAEFER.
SSI SCHAEFER developed a modular concept of a highly dynamic system solution for Arvato SCS.
"The storage cube for the new shuttle warehouse is located in a 24-meter-high extension of the high bay warehouse and has been designed using the patented 3D-MATRIX Solution from SSI SCHAEFER. This gives Arvato SCS a future-proof solution for automated storage, buffering, and integrated sequencing of order processing. For instance, decoupling individual processes along the horizontal and vertical axes prevents bottlenecks during storage and retrieval," explains Martin Nagler from SSI SCHAEFER.
Now, 84 integrated SSI Flexi type single-level shuttles facilitate efficient storage and retrieval processes. 20 integrated lifts ensure fast material flows on the vertical system level. The system expands the capacities of Arvato SCS in automated storage containers available on an ad-hoc basis to a total of more than 60,000 locations and boosts the number of goods-to-person picking stations by 60%. This gives every work station access to the entire range of items from the 3D-MATRIX Solution. As many as four orders per station can be picked at once directly into shipping cartons, as per the one-stop-pick solution. If an order can be finished in this area, it will then be transported directly to the order dispatch area. Here, the employee prints the order papers, fills the empty space in the carton with packing material, and attaches the shipping label to the carton, which is then transported to goods-out on the conveying section. This enables short order cycle times.
"It's a solution that guarantees us maximum flexibility and performance. This is where SSI SCHAEFER offered us something truly unique, with the optimal performance-to-space ratio. We were able to achieve our aims of boosting productivity and technical performance thanks to the innovative and, above all, space-saving warehouse solution," summarizes Harald Horstmann with satisfaction.
The expansion of the existing logistics system is the follow-up project to an automation solution that SSI SCHAEFER implemented for the VVA back in 2006.
At that time, the following solutions were built in Gütersloh:
- a 4-aisle automated small parts warehouse (ASPW) with 24,000 container storage locations
- a static rack system with 14,000 storage locations
- 24 SSI Carousel systems with around 26,000 container storage locations for highly dynamic individual parts picking
"The tailor-made high-performance system with its ergonomic goods-to-person picking stations has proven its worth over the course of 14 years and has evolved with the challenges and our business. However, due to the business development in recent years, we needed to expand the picking section for B- and C-items in particular. Based on our longstanding partnership, SSI SCHAEFER was able to implement an optimized, future-proof, and energy-efficient solution to improve space efficiency, capacity, and performance”, explains Harald Horstmann.
In addition to the performance and flexibility of the system, there was a focus on the ergonomics of the work stations. The VVA has developed a corresponding concept together with its employees, SSI SCHAEFER, the Technical University of Darmstadt, and the start-up cellumation. The solution comprises special work stations to which source and target containers can be delivered on one level and from which pickers can process orders ergonomically. The new work stations on the shuttle warehouse are multifunctional and, in addition to order compilation, enable returned goods to be re-sorted. To further boost the ergonomics and optimize the working environment, the partners also make use of the solution's individually adjustable working heights, ergonomic arrangement of the widgets, optimal presentation of the information, and touch-friendly materials.
"As part of our social responsibility, we wanted to put in place optimal ergonomics and create the nicest possible working environment. After all, what's the point of having a powerful system if employees get tired quickly or their health is at risk? We're even breaking new ground when it comes to lighting; the light color adapts to the circadian rhythm," says Harald Horstmann.