Samsonite improves storage for the slow rotation of products

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Samsonite has overhauled the storage area for the slow rotation of goods at its headquarters in Oudenaarde, Belgium, after it reached storage capacity.

The new system is a collaboration between E&K Automation and Linde Material Handling and features three automatic high rack stackers from the Linde K Range.

Germain Ghys, logistics manager at Samsonite in Oudenaarde, says: “Our ever increasing range has become a growing logistical challenge for us. To manage the multitude of products, we rented additional storage areas in the immediate vicinity years ago, but this solution was not cost-effective, fast or flexible and reached its capacity.”

Samsonite products are normally separated in accordance with their current status in the life cycle and are split into fast and slow moving products. At the same time, every product can be switched from a slow to a fast mover, or vice versa, according to seasonal peaks and promotional campaigns.

The aim of the new order picking storage area for slow movers was primarily to release capacity for the turnover of fast moving goods.

Prior to choosing the system from E&K Automation and Linde, three alternative ideas were initially developed – an individual system with fully automatic cranes; manually operated very narrow aisle trucks; and manually operated reach trucks – however all were rejected due to cost and the excessive number of truck needed.

The new storage area is equipped with five levels and 12 aisles, which are up to 160m long. In total, there are 11,520 storage locations and 1,100 picking locations for a maximum of one million individual items.

The pallet racking is divided into six separate sections, each of which consists of an order picking aisle, where the operator or pickers work, and two narrow aisles for replenishment, which is accessed by three unmanned, automated Linde combination trucks.

Every afternoon, orders received by 12 noon are processed. The storage area management system then determines which products are already available at a pick location and which goods still need to be replenished.

On average, the trucks rearrange around 20 per cent of the stored goods until every product can be found at an order picking storage location.

Truck movements are transmitted remotely by the warehouse management system to the automatic Linde K Range trucks.

The employees use a route-optimised pick list to take the items from the order picking locations, attach a barcode label and place them on a conveyer belt in the middle of the pick aisle. From there, they are transported to a consolidation area, where they are grouped by destination.

A manual electric forklift truck then loads the pallets onto lorries using a dock leveller. Around 27 lorries with an average of 1,000 to 1,500 items or a volume of 1,500 cubic metres deliver goods to retailers throughout Europe on a daily basis.

The slow moving products stored in the warehouse are transported from production on counterbalance trucks. Each electrical counterbalance truck places the loaded 1,400 x 1,400 x 2,000mm high special pallets into the marshalling area.

After the pallet profiling is complete, the load is then transferred to the automated storage area of the warehouse using the cantilever P and D stations.

The automated Linde K Range trucks pick the pallets using their telescopic forks and transport them to the required rack location. When placing pallets the trucks are positioned via a reflector to ensure they have a working tolerance of less than 15mm.

The automated K Range trucks are wire-guided along the aisles; each of the racks has a 150mm safety clearance between the truck and the load in the rack. Movement of the truck outside of the aisles is via a laser scanner system.

The laser guidance system works by using reflectors located in the warehouse that ensures the truck has three reference points. Since there is only 75 to 100mm of space between the individual pallet storage positions, the automated rack is additionally equipped with a mobile pallet profiler which is mounted on the forks.

This ensures that the load can be stored in the rack without a repeat check of the dimensions and that the goods from two neighbouring rack positions do not touch each other. In case the dimensions of a load exceed the standard pallet profile, the Linde narrow aisle trucks can be switched to manual operation.

The 80V/775Ah lead-acid battery is charged by the contact pads on the floor. When the truck has no outstanding loading orders, it travels to the defined charging station and is automatically charged. 

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