Ferdinand Gross, the Stuttgart-based fastener supplier, has improved the productivity and flexibility of its logistics operations and boosted customer service levels with a Multishuttle system from Dematic.
The automation specialist installed a storage and order fulfilment system featuring the Multishuttle; a flexible automated storage and retrieval system designed for dynamic, high-rate product sequencing to support assembly, goods-to-person picking, and pick face replenishment.
The system features both the captive and roaming versions in a single unit. The roaming system takes care of the fastest moving items, to help improve availability and flexibility.
In the roaming area, 20 shuttles serve the 59,000 storage positions at a throughput rate of 615 double cycles (parallel storage and retrievals) per hour.
Every aisle contains one shuttle which accesses each level by lift and then runs on the rail to the selected storage position. The individual shuttles are transferred between levels via lifts, at high speeds.
The captive area manages order picking of items from the roaming section, shelf storage system and picking-related areas.
Here, each level in the aisle is equipped with its own shuttle, with 12 shuttles serving 5,000 storage positions at a rate of 514 double cycles per hour. The shuttles retrieve totes from storage and transport them to a lift at the end of the lane.
The lift vertically transfers the boxes to the out-feed conveyors which lead to a picking station. Here, sequencing to customer specification is possible, for example delivery of goods from inventory in the precise sequence that they are needed for picking for the order.
Since installing the system order throughput times have been cut from 3.5 hours to 30 to 60 minutes. As a result, the company has been able to extend the incoming order cut-off time to three hours later.
The system has given customers a more flexible service. At a delivery deadline established by the customer, all pending orders in the system are bundled into a single shipment. The resultant later order dispatch window allows better bundling of individual orders, which helps reduce the number of packages to be consigned.
Order fulfilment times have been shortened from an average of one week to one day.
Previously, customers’ shipping containers had a fixed label, showing article number, article description, amount and customer name. Once the customer emptied the container, Ferdinand Gross would pick it up and return it to the hub, ready to be refilled and shipped out again.
With the new system, customer containers can now be relabelled for filling with any product rather than waiting for the original empty container to return to trigger the order.
Consequently, return trips with empty boxes can now be bundled, reducing the number of trips to and from the customer. This has reduced transport costs and helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions.