Monday, October 11, 2021

Automation Seems the Way Forward for Automotive Logistics Operations

Supply Demands Ultimate in Supply Chain Efficiency
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – The automation of many parts of the supply chain is racing ahead and no sector of freight forwarding and logistics is more demanding in terms of turn round times and continuity of service than the automotive sector. With the necessity for sequencing to maintain operating production lines any improvement in performance is welcome.

Materials handling group Jungheinrich has recently optimised the existing high-bay warehouse of the global technology group and automotive supplier ZF in Schweinfurt. In future, the entire material flow from storage to production supply will be automated.

The initial position in ZF’s high-bay warehouse in Schweinfurt encompassed 985 rack storage locations for pallet cages, large plastic load carriers and Euro pallets. These were distributed over five aisles that were 17.7 metres long and 6.25 metres high. Production components previously came into the warehouse via a security door system and were deposited there manually.

To fully automate this process, including racking, narrow-aisle storage and the transport from the security door to the warehouse, Jungheinrich delivered the racking system with area access control as well as the conveyor systems. The pallets and boxes will in future pass through a triple control along the conveyor system: clearance, weight and contour controls.

After the barcode is read automatically, they are transported to the high-bay warehouse via roller conveyors on two sides. There, Jungheinrich’s driverless and automated version of the standard EKX narrow-aisle truck, an EKX 516ka, takes over. It transports the loading units to their correct locations in the ZF warehouse, around the clock.

Rails along the racking on the aisles supply the EKX 516ka with electricity. It is equipped with an on-board battery charger. Notification about stacking and picking takes place directly and without manual scanning from the forklift to the warehouse management system, which leads to even greater efficiency. Jungheinrich also supplied ZF in Schweinfurt with a Warehouse Control System (WCS) featuring an integrated material flow calculator.

The customer was obviously satisfied with the result, with Dominik Hüllmantel, project lead at ZF, and Andre Hofmann, team lead of intralogistics at ZF, saying:

“One of the main reasons we chose Jungheinrich was exactly this all-inclusive package. The EKX 516a-operated rack warehouse is an efficient solution for us, given the complexity of our processes and the limited availability of space.”