Innovative storage and picking solution ensures maximum performance in limited space
In order to be able to handle the increasing business growth of VVA as part of Arvato Supply Chain Solutions at the Gütersloh site in the long term, Arvato, together with its long-standing partner SSI SCHAEFER, modernised and expanded the distribution centre in 2019 during ongoing operations. SSI SCHAEFER integrated an innovative, highly dynamic and sustainable storage and order picking system into the existing facility in a limited space, which enables a significant expansion of the order picking capacity in the bottleneck area for publishing delivery.
Whether children's and youth books, novels, biographies, art books or specialist literature - the demand for books is and remains high. This is also evident in VVA's business growth in recent years. The publishing house delivery department reached its performance and capacity limits at the location in Gütersloh and therefore decided, together with SSI SCHAEFER, to modernise and expand the existing facility. VVA's central logistics centre stores around 70,000 different items - e.g. books, audio books and toys, but also magazines, calendars and stationery.
Space-saving and future-oriented modernisation and expansion of the existing plant
As a global solution provider of modular warehouse and logistics systems, SSI SCHAEFER was responsible for the automation project at the Gütersloh site as a reliable partner back in 2006.
For the expansion, SSI SCHAEFER was able to implement an innovative and high-performance solution with the patented 3D-MATRIX Solution® while making the best possible use of space - a storage and order picking system on just 900 m² for a throughput of 16 million books per year. The integrated goods-to-person picking workstations are subject to the highest ergonomic standards. In addition, the system can be flexibly adapted and expanded in the future to meet changing market requirements.
Sustainability, ergonomics and performance - all in one system
From the point of view of sustainability, existing intralogistics systems, processes and material flows were to be retained. "In addition to making optimal use of the existing space, the expansion had to be planned in such a way that it could take place during ongoing operations. Our business was not to be affected by the work at any time," says Harald Horstmann, Vice President Publisher at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions, describing one of the main challenges of the project.
Overall, the project took place in three steps:
- In order to be able to implement the planned extensions, the order start in the old system first had to be relocated and further automated.
- In a second step, the fully automated high-bay warehouse was directly connected to the existing and future storage and picking systems.
- The third and most important project step was the construction of the shuttle warehouse including the connected workplaces.
"We implemented the physical integration and tests in conjunction with the new system together with VVA mainly at weekends, as well as the assembly and conversion and the addition of the conveyor system," recalls Martin Nagler, project manager on the part of SSI SCHAEFER.
"The storage cube for the new shuttle warehouse is located in a 24 m high extension to the high bay warehouse and is designed according to the patented 3D-MATRIX Solution from SSI SCHAEFER. This provides Arvato with a future-proof solution for automated storage, buffering and integrated sequencing of order processing. By decoupling the individual processes on the horizontal and vertical axes, bottlenecks, e.g. during storage and retrieval, are avoided," explains Martin Nagler from SSI SCHAEFER.
Today, 84 integrated single-level shuttles ensure efficient storage and retrieval processes. The innovative shuttle technology with super capacitors as energy storage offers maximum performance with the highest energy efficiency. For the highest possible picking performance, each workstation is connected via conveyor technology to corresponding lifts, which are operated by the shuttle vehicles. The 20 integrated lifts enable fast material flows on the vertical system level. The system expands Arvato's capacities in the area of automatic ad hoc item totes to a total of over 60,000 locations and increases the number of goods-to-person picking stations by 60 per cent.
"This solution guarantees us maximum flexibility and performance. This is exactly where SSI SCHAEFER made the difference and offered us the best performance-to-space ratio. We were able to fully achieve our goals of increasing productivity and throughput with the innovative and, above all, space-saving warehouse solution," sums up Harald Horstmann with satisfaction.
In addition to the performance and flexibility of the system, one focus was also on the ergonomics of the workstations. VVA developed a corresponding concept with its employees, SSI SCHAEFER, the TU Darmstadt and the start-up cellumation. The solution is special workstations where source and destination containers are served on one level and can be processed ergonomically by the order pickers both from the inside to the outside and in the opposite direction. The new workstations on the shuttle warehouse are thus multifunctional and, in addition to order compilation, also enable the return sorting of goods in particular. To further increase ergonomics and optimise the working environment, the partners rely on individually adjustable working heights, an ergonomic arrangement of the operating elements, an optimal presentation of information and touch-friendly materials, among other things, for the solution.
"As part of our social responsibility, we wanted to create the best possible ergonomics and the most pleasant working environment possible. After all, what good is the most efficient system if employees tire quickly or even become a health hazard? We also went new ways with the lighting, for example, the light colour is adapted to the rhythm of the day," emphasises Harald Horstmann.
The expansion of the existing logistics system is the follow-up project to an automation solution that SSI SCHAEFER implemented for Arvato Supply Chain Solutions back in 2006.
At that time, the following were created in Gütersloh
- a 4-aisle automatic small parts warehouse with 24,000 bin locations,
- a shelving system with 14,000 storage spaces,
- 24 SSI Carousel systems with around 26,000 bin locations for highly dynamic individual parts picking.
"The customised high-performance system with its ergonomic goods-to-person picking stations has proven itself over 14 years and has grown with the challenges and our business. However, due to increasing demand and changes in the order and item structure, we needed to expand the existing capacities to include a space-saving and energy-efficient storage and picking solution. Based on the long-standing partnership, SSI SCHAEFER was able to implement a future-proof solution optimised in terms of space efficiency, capacity and performance," explains Harald Horstmann.