Arvato Supply Chain Solutions is consistently driving forward the process automation of its sites: Following the Vereinigte Verlagsauslieferung (VVA) in Gütersloh, the logistics center in Halle/Landsberg and the distribution center in Harsewinkel, the Dutch site in Venlo is now also using automated guided vehicles (AGVs).
Since March 2021, the transport robots have also been in use in Venlo, bringing hundreds of pallets from A to B every day - fully automatically and autonomously. They independently approach warehouses, incoming and outgoing goods, and the waste container disposal area, open gates, and independently put pallet conveyor systems into operation.
To prevent them from bumping into each other, reflectors have been mounted on the walls and shelves along the transport routes. They serve as navigation points for the vehicles and are recognized by a laser scanner on the vehicles. This enables the transport robots to navigate their freight with an accuracy of up to two millimeters and place the pallets at the specified destination with pinpoint precision. This reduces rejects due to incorrectly stored or damaged products and thus contributes to quality assurance and cost reduction.
Real-time tracking through better integration
Because the smart forklifts are seamlessly linked to the warehouse management software and the conveyor system, all pallet movements can be tracked in real time, incoming and outgoing goods can be processedmore efficiently, and empty runs can be reduced.
This enables complete traceability of individual batches and products. The system clearly shows when which product was where and that specified maximum temperatures were not exceeded at any time. This is important. After all, pharmaceutical logistics is subject to particularly strict compliance requirements.
According to the EU Directive on Good Distribution Practice (GDP) for medicinal products for human use, all parties involved in the supply chain must ensure that the manufacturers' storage requirements are reliably met throughout the entire transport route.
Can be deployed around the clock
The vehicles can be deployed around the clock, seven days a week, which significantly speeds up goods retrieval and delivery processes.
If the necessary energy should be lacking after a fully loaded working day, the built-in lithium-ion batteries can be recharged by the transport robots on their own: At the end of the working day or during idle times, the vehicles dock at their charging station without human intervention.
The driverless transport systems bring us quality improvements, cost reductions, a considerable time saving and also an enormous reduction in workload. This represents a major step forward in the automation of our logistics processes and for our business.”
- Max. speed: up to 2.5 meters per second
- Max. lifting height: 6 meters
- Max. lifting capacity: 1,5 tons
- Transport length: 2,605 metres
- Transport width: 0.985 meters
- Max. Operating time: 8 hours under full load
Precise transport to the millimetre
Since the beginning of 2020, the automatically operating vehicles have been making a significant contribution to seamless traceability at the Harsewinkel distribution center. They transport the pharmaceuticals and medical products to the desired pallet location within the specified temperature range with millimeter precision and without errors.
In addition to quality improvements and cost reductions, warehouse staff also benefit from the automation solution. They no longer have to spend time on strenuous transport tasks, but can devote all their energy to more value-adding activities - such as stocking the reserve warehouses. In view of the ongoing shortage of skilled workers, this is an important added value. After all, good personnel are hard to find, even for Arvato.
This makes it all the more important to relieve employees of wear-and-tear tasks - and to make their day-to-day work easier with intelligent solutions such as the automated guided vehicles.
In the future, as many other Arvato sites around the world as possible should benefit from these advantages. The course for this has already been set: The automation solution is not only scalable as required, but also relatively generic in design. This means that other sites can also easily use it as a blueprint for automating their own warehouses. Optimal conditions for further developing the intelligent logistics processes and using them profitably.