The warehouse management system PSIwms ensures coordinated control of largely automated intralogistics processes at the new distribution centre of screw and bolt manufacturer HECO-Schrauben. Sophisticated picking strategies with specially tailored dialogues increase efficiency and quality in inventory management, contract manufacturing and service.
“Better safe than sorry” is the guiding principle of HECO-Schrauben GmbH & Co. KG, headquartered in the Black Forest town of Schramberg.
Founded in 1967, the family company operates in 30 countries worldwide, and its production volume of around 1.5 billion screws per year makes it one of the leading manufacturers in the industry. Ageing intralogistics were increasingly proving to limit the continuous growth in orders and business. In 2012, the company decided to build a new logistics centre to increase storage capacity and efficiency. “The logistics centre is the logical response to the ever-increasing demands on goods and materials management”, says warehouse manager Torsten Hettich. “This ranges from the system equipment to optimum process control using a flexible warehouse management system”. The new logistics centre with high-bay warehouse, automatic small-parts warehouse and generously proportioned picking and shipping area has been in operation since the beginning of 2014.
“5000 pallet spaces, 50,000 carton spaces, state-of-the-art picking technology and fully automated processes offer extensive capacity and provide for significantly increased throughput”, summarises Hettich. “The most important processes in the warehouse are largely automated”.
The PSIwms warehouse management system from PSI Logistics provides the IT basis for inventory management, coordination and process control. “It is a powerful WMS that gives us high flexibility and investment security and was able to be tailored exactly to our requirements in terms of functional scope and the necessary dialogues”, is how Hettich justifies the surcharge.
PSI Logistics provided the wireless data terminals required for process execution and installed the interfaces to the material flow computer and HECO host system. In addition, all HECO-specific processes were entered into PSIwms by way of numerous customised programming operations. Within nine months, PSIwms had been exactly tailored to the requirements of the screw manufacturer’s logistics centre and implemented. “In conjunction with the material flow control system of the plant supplier, the best solution”, is how the warehouse manager views it.
Shuttle traffic brings goods for storage from the production building a few hundred metres away. Pallet conveyor technology carries the palletised cartons of screws and bolts into the logistics centre. After recording and entry into the IT system, the pallets are taken to the high-bay warehouse. There, storage-and-retrieval machines (SRMs) store the pallets double deep in one of the two warehouse lanes following the specifications of the material flow computer (MFC). The MFC reports the storage location to the PSIwms that manages inventories, retrievals and picking processes. “For recording incoming goods, new dialogues were created in PSIwms with project-specific input screens”, explains Christian Welter, project manager at PSI Logistics.
To stock the automatic small-parts warehouse, the WMS directs pallets from the high-bay warehouse to an automatic depalletiser, which carries out the separation. A conveyor section then leads the cartons to an automatic labelling system, where the cartons are given individual barcode labels before being ejected onto the storage branches for the three lanes of the automatic small-parts warehouse and stored. PSIwms directs any remaining partially unloaded pallets back to the high-bay warehouse.
“An altogether successful solution”, says satisfied warehouse manager Hettich. “PSIwms provides for efficient and highly secure logistics and picking processes with which we can meet the current and future challenges in the market. It’s an investment that completely suits the motto of our company, ‘Better safe than sorry’”.
HECO supplies mainly specialist markets from the new logistics centre. Eight picking stations are set up for order-based manufacturing. Source cartons, shipping cartons and shipping pallets can be packed at these stations. PSIwms coordinates the retrieval of the required cartons from the automatic small-parts warehouse according to stored strategies per delivery to the respective picking stations for carriers and express parcel couriers. The order picking processes are supported by a light system based on the pick-from/pick-to principle. PSIwms indicates the source carton to the pickers on new dialogue interfaces and specifies the relevant target container. Each picking station can accommodate picking for up to four destination cartons. In addition, each picking station has two target-pallet spaces.
A retrieval branch leads the cartons to the packing area where the shipping packages are sealed, labelled and transferred to the goods issue area. By means of a built-in balance in the conveyor, PSIwms checks that the order has been correctly prepared by comparing the stored master data with the order data and the corresponding weights of the picked items.