German car maker Audi has invested 34 million euros in a new logistics centre for parts at Neckarsulm.
The company said the many production starts and numerous model variations had nearly doubled the number of small load carriers in Neckarsulm since 2008, and that would continue to increase. An average of 1,300 containers will be handled each hour in the new automated small load carrier storage facility, known as the AKL.
The new logistics centre was built on a 12,000 sq m area in the east section of the company premises. Construction of the new Hall A10 began in September 2009 and operations have been ramping up since October 2010.
The central incoming goods department for the entire site is now located at the edge of the premises. There, truck drivers unlock the gate with a chip and drive into a secure area that contains four parking spaces for unloading. 12 experienced employees at three control stations inspect the incoming goods, enter the new items or file claims for any incorrect deliveries.
Four robots lift most of the containers that need to be stored from the pallets directly onto the conveyor belt. The remaining material is received by the logistics technicians on adjustable lifting tables.
Andrea Barth, head of the new AKL centre, said: “The employees used to have to place the containers into the shelves by hand. Today the workflow is much more ergonomic and more productive as well.”
The small containers, which might contain items such as control units, are stored by fully automated loops in the 19.5-metre high-bay racking units until they are needed. 15 fully automated rack feeders drive up to the 160,000 storage slots.
The containers remain there for several days and are removed according to the first in, first out principle. “The equipment is intelligent; it stores containers of the same stock at various locations so that if complications arise, there is no interruption in production,” Barth said.