Sector: Specialist wholesaler for bath- room fittings, installations and heating technology
Company: 49 sites, mainly in South-West Germany. More than 1,800 employees.
Challenges: New joint warehouse in Böblingen for 28,000 items. The biggest investment in the company’s history. Solution: Space saved with compact shuttle container warehouse. Networked IT infrastructure as well as SAP EWM (Extended Warehouse Management) for optimum goods flows.
STILL products: Pallet high rack warehouse, honeycomb long goods shelf warehouse, fleet of EK-X vertical order pickers and FM-X reach trucks.
In order to develop its market position, Reisser AG, the wholesaler for sanita- tion, heating and air conditioning, has made a multi-million-euro investment into the new joint warehouse at its headquarters in Böblingen, Germany. For the growing online B2B trade, a fully networked IT infrastructure enables optimum control and tracking of the flow of goods. 32 new electric industrial trucks from STILL have been acquired for the opera- tion of pallet and cantilever racking systems. Orders from the extensive range of goods are gathered with the help of the narrow EK-X vertical order picker. Simultaneously in the same shelving aisle, replenishing stock at storage levels of up to 13 metres is coordinated using the easily manoeuvrable reach truck FM-X.
Joint warehouse sets new standards
TThe new joint warehouse is without doubt the biggest investment in the company’s history. A second phase of the construction will be completed in 2019. The com- pact shuttle container warehouse for small parts saves a lot of space. Around two thirds of the 28,000 items are housed there. In addition, large and bulky items are stored in several pallet high rack warehouses and in a honeycomb long goods shelf warehouse. The Head of Logistics at the new joint warehouse, Timo Zgubinski, says: “We manage our entire material flow, as well as internal transport to the shipping points of the HGV ramps, using the fleet of forklifts from STILL. The fleet allows us to process order peaks more dynamically, especially in comparison to special storage and material handling. Every evening so far, we have managed to have all orders at the shipping points ready for delivery.” Doubling the warehouse capacity and introducing digitalisation has also improved supply quality several times over. The new infrastructure facilitates timely supply to 17 branches and 52 specialist retailers, both now and in the future. Furthermore, the family company has opened a showroom, which is setting new standards.
“When it comes to safety and working conditions we set the benchmark very high,” continues Ben Hopmans. “This is why we observe future thresholds for diesel emissions at our site. The new hall is no longer an open space, but a locked warehouse with no doors. We no longer wish to use diesel forklift trucks, even ones with a soot filter. However, due to the ATEX zones in the plant, regular electric forklift trucks are not suitable for this kind of changeover. A whole series of adaptations are necessary beforehand.”
Simultaneous order picking and replenishment control
The picking zones in the pallet warehouses are divided into three product groups: sewage, heating and ceramics. On the upper floor of the warehouse, there is a mixed zone for lighter products such as shower screens, insulation materials and light plas- tic baths. In the case of a large lorry delivery with several sanitation products, these must also be stored as quickly as possible. Maximum flexibility is not only essential for order picking, but also for replenishment control. Both warehouse processes must therefore be carried out at the same time.
Another level of order picking
With the ongoing growth of online B2B trading, rather than whole pallets, increas- ingly smaller lot sizes are being picked from the pallets. As the Head of Logistics confirms: “Around 70 percent of the order picking takes place is one product loca- tion. However, orders are often for larger quantities.” With driving speeds of up to 13 km/h and lifting speeds of up to 0.4 m/s, EK-X order pickers take the efficient movement of goods to a whole new level. With the optional OptiSpeed system from STILL, the compact warehouse assistant guarantees the highest possible driving speed at all times, without jeopardising driving safety. The EX-K offers perfect visibility in every driving situation. The intuitive operating panel with adjustable positioning guarantees that the user can work effectively regardless of how tall they are. Durable and energy-saving LED headlights ensure optimum visibility. The Blue-Q efficiency mode guarantees further energy savings of up to ten percent. In addition, the diverse range of equipment options for the driver’s cab, such as inclinable side cupboards, makes accessing goods even easier. With the help of the EK-X order pickers, the manual pick rate has already increased to 3000 orders picked per day. In the joint warehouse, order picking is only carried out in the lower rows of racking. The 14 EK-X order pickers therefore have a maximum reach height of 6.35 m. How- ever, there are stock reserves stored even higher than that. Thanks to the modular design principle, STILL’s EK-X vertical order picker raises the bar in the truest sense of the phrase, with a maximum reach height of 12 meters.
More flexibility in wide-aisle shelving
The order picking zones in the lower rows of racking are defined as fixed storage locations within the SAP EWM (Extended Warehouse Management). In addition, the SAP warehouse management always determines a height-optimised storage location in the upper rack rows. In the wide-aisle shelving, the aisles are at least 3.68 metres wide. Order picking and replenishment control can therefore be carried out simultaneously. For operation at storage levels up to 13 meters high, two FM-X 20 driver seated reach trucks are deployed on the ground floor, plus an additional one on the upper floor.
Height selection and active load stabilisation increase pick rate
So that even bulky items can be stored on the supply shelves, STILL has pro- grammed 99 shelf levels into the Easy Target lift height preselection system. The height specification can be entered easily on the truck display of the FM-X. The forks then automatically stop when they reach the specified height. Using the FM-X 20’s lateral fork camera, heavy pallets weighing up to 400 k can easily be stored at heights of 13 metres. When adding stock, STILL’s active load stabilisation (ALS) system detects vibrations in the mast and effectively reduces them using hydraulic control. Combined with the lift height preselection, this efficiently saves time. Most importantly, this has enabled the FM-X to increase the pick rate.
Efficient, flexible and fast warehouse processes are crucial success factors in terms of the competition and increasing online B2B trade. In the joint warehouse at Bö- blingen, maximum flexibility in pallet wide-aisle shelving is crucial not only for order picking, but also for replenishment control. Both warehouse processes are therefore carried out simultaneously by EK-X vertical order pickers and FM-X reach trucks. Thanks to the optimum control and tracking of goods flows, customers from trade and plant engineering can even check the delivery status of their order around the clock using a smartphone app.