Eurologistics centre in Germany

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Eurologistics, which works all year round, except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, achieved a steady warehouse performance of more than 99% for the 12 months to April 2004, says Debes. He puts this down to fast deliveries, a high quality operation, flexibility, IT and a broad stock range.

According to Eurologistics head Ernst Debes “reliability is key”, with overnight deliveries play a major role. For instance, he says, the cut-off point for orders in the UK is 3pm. These arrive via EDI at Eurologistics by 4pm and are shipped out an hour and a half later to Frankfurt airport. The orders then arrive at Hays in Birmingham at 8.10pm for overnight deliveries to customers. Germany, Spain and the UK are the top three countries in supplying EDI orders.

The one thing that is very noticeable at Eurologistics is how quiet the machinery is, something that the company insists upon. CIBA Vision explains that if the machinery was loud, the work rate among manual staff would suffer. If staff has to pick and process 38,000 SKUs of made-to-order shipments then they have got to concentrate, says the company.

The “modest noise levels” are because of CIBA VISION’S eUROLOGISTICS CENTRElProducts are despatched within 24 hours to 15 European countries.

It deals with 50,000 different customers.

It features 3,800 pallet locations and 3,000 external pallet sites.

The centre handles 38,000 stock variants.

On average, 180,000 packs are despatched daily.

About 25,000 orders are dealt with daily.

Warehouse performance runs at 99.5%.silent actors in the belt curves, conveyor lines, accumulation roller conveyors and the high-speed sorter. Also, all the conveyors are suspended from the ceiling so that they are out of the way.

Picking products

The automation at the centre has to handle shipping cartons measuring 33cm x 22cm x 20cm down to the tiniest of boxes measuring 5.8cm x 3.5cm x 2.8cm. With up to 25,000 shipments containing about 250,000 products having to be delivered next day, Eurologistics depends on “a highly efficient forecasting system”. This means that each order has a processing time of less than two hours.

As a result, the variable performance ability is required along with exact coordination of the sortation system and internal routeing systems.

This and greater expansion were reasons enough for CIBA Vision to switch to the Interroll Axmann high-speed crossbelt sorter. The company says the sorter cannot break down when higher performance is needed. The sorter also offers a recirculation option – it drops off units that have not been discharged into their allotted destinations the second time round.

The whole process starts with supplies arriving at Eurologistics which are stored in a receiving area that features SSI Schaefer and BITO racking. If the centre has to ship 300,000 SKUs a day then it must receive 300,000 SKUs.

Order slips arrive from CIBA Vision in Switzerland for deliveries to customers in Europe. An order is placed in a container linking its number to the container’s barcode. The order data then goes to the machinery database, and the container is placed on the Interroll Axmann conveyor where it is scanned before progressing.

The supplies are loaded into three PEEM A-frames, located at various stages around the conveyors, as and when required. The A-frames feature Siemens PLCs so that if a box is removed from the belt, the PLC immediately knows and will stop that order so that it cannot continue. The container is pushed from the line into an area for manual checking.

As orders continue, they are scanned to verify that the correct product has been selected and that it has not passed its sell-by date. Labels for the orders are only printed in English – 180 per minute are printed – and there is a back-up printer which will take over if the original one stops. The labelling process for the daily contact lenses is similar, although the labels come from underneath the belt.

About 600 orders are processed an hour and, once complete, they travel up a level and then back down, with the help of the spiral curves, ready for packing. The packers place the orders in the correct size packaging and add the label before replacing the order back on the conveyor.

Staff at Eurologistics switch between picking and packing to give flexibility, and ensure they get a rest from being on their feet for long periods at a time.

The packaged packs travel up to the next level to the cross-belt sorting machine using the spiral belt. The packs drop into the bag destined for the correct country. Once full, the bags are closed, sealed and replaced by an empty bag.

As with the automated system, the manual process starts with the order slip which goes into a container. An employee takes the container and fills it with the required products.

Interroll is one of several materials handling solutions companies exhibiting at Logistics Link North, being held on September 22 and 23 at Doncaster Racecourse, Leger Way, Doncaster. For further information contact Richard Milbourn on 020 8661 1160 or visit SUPPLIED WHATlInterroll Axmann supplied the conveyors and sorters.

Racking at the centre is from SSI Schaefer and BITO.

Linde has supplied the material handling equipment, mainly hand pallets and forklifts.

Logopak provided printers and labels.

The A-frames are from Austrian company PEEM.

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